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FOOD DESERT RELIEF PROGRAM


The Food Desert Relief Program addresses the food security needs of communities across New Jersey by providing up to $40 million per year in tax credits, loans, grants, and/or technical assistance to increase access to nutritious foods and develop new approaches to alleviate food deserts.

Through the Program, the NJEDA will identify up to 50 food desert communities across the state in coordination with the Departments of Community Affairs and Agriculture; award tax credits to incentivize businesses to establish and retain new supermarkets and grocery stores in food desert communities; offer technical assistance on best practices for increasing the accessibility of nutritious foods; and provide grants and loans for food retailers of all sizes to fund equipment costs associated with providing fresh food, technology costs associated with supporting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) payments, and initiatives to ensure food security.

ELIGIBILITY

To receive tax credits through the Food Desert Relief Program, supermarkets or grocery stores must:

  • Be a retail outlet with at least 16,000 square feet where 90 percent of space is occupied by food and related products.
  • Be the first or second supermarket or grocery store in a designated food desert community.
  • Commit to accept benefits from federal nutrition assistance programs, including SNAP and WIC.

The Program will also make grants and loans for equipment, technology costs, and initiatives to ensure food security of residents available to eligible entities within designated food desert communities, including supermarkets and grocery stores, midsize food retailers that are 2,500 to 16,000 square feet, small food retailers less than 2,500 square feet, and other entities supporting food security.

Funding will be available for designated Food Desert Communities. Please find the list of Food Desert Communities.

AWARD SIZE

Developers will be eligible to receive tax credits up to 40 percent of the total project cost for the first supermarket/grocery store in a food desert community and up to 20 percent for the second supermarket/grocery store.

Owners/operators of supermarkets/grocery stores will be eligible to receive tax credits up to 100 percent of initial operating costs for the first supermarket/grocery store and up to 50 percent of initial operating costs for the second supermarket/grocery store within the first three years after opening to the public.

Technical assistance may be available to any entity that is eligible for tax credits, grants, or loans to assist in implementation of best practices for increasing the accessibility of nutritious foods in food desert communities. This assistance will be available in New Jersey’s two most commonly spoken languages.

The NJEDA may sell all or a portion of the tax credits made available in a fiscal year and dedicate the proceeds to provide grants and loans to qualified supermarkets, grocery stores, and small- and mid-sized food retailers in food desert communities for equipment, technology costs, and initiatives to ensure food security of residents.

FISCAL AND RESIDENT PROTECTIONS

In order to receive support through the Food Desert Relief Program, the project must be in good standing with the NJ Department of Labor, NJ Department of Treasury, and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Entities that develop and open a new supermarket or grocery store in a designated food desert community must also demonstrate that each worker employed to perform construction on the project is paid at or above the prevailing wage rate, as determined by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Supermarkets or grocery stores receiving awards will be subject to Labor Harmony Agreements.

The full statutory text of the program can be found in sections 35-42 of the Economic Recovery Act of 2020.

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WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU


Please use our public feedback tool to share your thoughts on how NJEDA can best implement the Economic Recovery Act.

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