NYC’s ‘FRESH’ program now bringing food to more than 1M New Yorkers

Fresh produce is seen at a grocery store.
Fresh produce is seen at a grocery store.
Photo Kirstyn Brendlen

Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick announced Wednesday that 30 supermarkets have opened under the city’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (“FRESH”) program, which is now serving 1.2 million New Yorkers that live within a half-mile of a store and previously had few greengrocer options. This citywide program, which launched in 2009, already has an additional 21 FRESH stores in the pipeline, which will serve an additional 300,000 people who currently do not have easy access to fresh food.

“Making New York City healthier and more equitable are two central goals of our administration, and the FRESH program is accomplishing both by bringing greener and healthier supermarket options to 1.2 million New Yorkers,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “This program is a perfect example of how our administration is being creative and deploying every tool in our toolbox to promote New Yorkers’ well-being. And by relaunching programs like Groceries 2 Go, our administration is targeting resources to our neighbors who need them most and ensuring everyone in our city can access the food that will provide them with the quality of life they deserve.”

FRESH gives property owners the right to construct slightly larger buildings in mixed residential and commercial districts, and in light manufacturing districts, if they include a FRESH supermarket.

To reach more New Yorkers, the city, with strong support from the City Council, expanded the FRESH zoning incentive to 11 additional underserved communities, from the 20 community districts it originally served. Since the program’s expansion, five applications for FRESH supermarkets have been submitted in the newly expanded areas, part of the 21 stores in development. This expansion was a key step to reducing health inequities that were further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The City’s FRESH Program strengthens our commitment to expand access to healthy and quality food choices that New Yorkers can bring into their homes and implement into their daily lifestyles,” said City Councilmember Kevin Riley. “As an advocate for health, wellness and a major champion for a healthier Bronx #not62 campaign, NYC programs that enhance our supermarkets with greener options are vital to encouraging residents to lead longer quality lives. This is transformative for our marginalized, underserved communities that widely lack the connection to those fresh, health-conscious privileges. Without equitable access, we cannot, as a community, address health conditions and other issues directly linked to unhealthy food options and poor eating habits. I look forward to initiatives like the FRESH Program becoming the standard citywide.”

FRESH was created in response to the citywide study Going to Market, which highlighted the widespread shortage of neighborhood grocery stores providing fresh food options in many New York City communities. The FRESH expansion grew out of a 2018 DCP analysis emphasizing the need to grow the program to more areas.

In 2019, DCP also launched the interactive Supermarket Needs Index to inform communities of nearby grocery stores and supermarkets and show which neighborhoods remain underserved.

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