GrowNYC, New York State and New York City break ground on regional food hub

Elected officials break ground on a new food distribution center in Hunts Point.
Photo by Jason Cohen

With the largest food distribution center in the world located in Hunts Point, many might wonder why south Bronx residents struggle to find healthy food. Well, that will soon change.

On March 24, a groundbreaking took place for the New York State Regional Food Hub (The Hub), a joint state and city project. This will be the first-of-its-kind, a publicly funded food hub dedicated to supporting regional farmers.

In attendance at the event were members of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, GrowNYC, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilman Rafael  Salamanca and Congressman Ritchie Torres.

A rendering of the Hub

“We are tremendously grateful to and thankful for State and City leaders, and all supporters of this project, who share our vision to provide access to fresh, healthy food to all New Yorkers while strengthening regional agriculture,” Marcel Van Ooyen, president and CEO of GrowNYC said. “I’m so happy to see this day when we break ground on the Hub, which will not only hugely impact our ability benefit local farmers and underserved New Yorkers, but will also serve as an example of how cities.”

The 60,000-square-foot cold-storage facility, located on a 135,000-square-foot lot in Hunts Point, will allow GrowNYC to increase the amount of food they distribute to 20 million pounds, benefitting local farmers and underserved New York communities, create 79 additional living-wage jobs and improving the capability to respond to potential future emergency food needs for New Yorkers.

Salamanca’s late father was a Teamsters Local 202 at the Hunts Point Market. The lawmaker recalled how as a kid he would go to work with his dad and was in awe of how much food he saw.

But, as he got older, the councilman began to wonder why that area had such a challenge finding food with the fish, produce and meat market right there. He stressed that when he speaks to people in the community one of their biggest complaints is lack of access to healthy food.

Salamanca, who allocated $1.45 million in for the hub is eager for it to come to the south Bronx.

“I applaud GrowNYC’s continued commitment to expanding access to healthy food options, especially during the pandemic, and look forward to working with them in my district and beyond to promote a healthier lifestyle in New York City,” Salamanca said.

The hub is projected to be complete in 18 months.