On February 1, 2023, the Department of City Planning updated the progress of the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health program with a new report, “FRESH By the Numbers.”. The Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (“FRESH”) program gives property owners the ability to construct slightly larger buildings in certain districts if the building includes a FRESH supermarket. The program targets neighborhoods that often lack access to fresh produce and other groceries, which can result in inequities and worse health outcomes for local residents.
According to the report, the FRESH program has currently incentivized the development of 51 supermarkets. Thirty supermarkets have already opened, and 21 stores are in development. The existing stores now provide a supermarket within walking distance, or a half mile, of 1.2 million New Yorkers. The list of existing FRESH stores can be found within City Planning’s report here.
The program launched in 2009. In 2021, the program was expanded to include eleven districts in addition to the original twenty districts selected for the program. The participating districts are Manhattan Community Districts 9, 10, 11, 12; portions of Bronx Community Districts 1 through 7, and Districts 8 and 9; Brooklyn Community Districts 1, 2, 12, and 13 and portions of Brooklyn Community Districts 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 16 and 17; Queens Community Districts 1, 3, 4, and 14 and portions of Queens Community District 12 and the Special Downtown Jamaica District; and Staten Island Community District 1.
In addition to the expansion of the FRESH program, in 2019 the Department of City Planning launched an interactive Supermarket Needs Index which provides information about nearby supermarkets and grocery stores and reveals which neighborhoods are still underserved.
Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick stated, “All New Yorkers deserve to have fresh and healthy food within walking distance of their homes – and FRESH has brought much better food choices to 1.2 million New Yorkers. With so many more stores in the queue, we expect that we are just scratching the surface here.”
New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball stated, “The FRESH program is a critical step in addressing the long-standing inequity in access to healthy and affordable food in underserved New York communities. Conveniently located supermarkets with affordable, high-quality options ensure all communities can put nutritious food on the table for their families, which can also help to prevent related health disparities. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Department of City Planning on ensuring neighborhoods across the five boroughs have access to these essential stores and food options.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)