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Biden Administration selects Jersey City for Local Foods, Local Places program

Jersey City hopes to increase demand for healthy local food, support the local economy by highlighting healthy food businesses, and connect unemployed residents with jobs in food production, aggregation, distribution, service, and disposal.
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Jersey City hopes to increase demand for healthy local food, support the local economy by highlighting healthy food businesses, and connect unemployed residents with jobs in food production, aggregation, distribution, service, and disposal.

Jersey City will be one of only 13 communities from across the nation to participate in the Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program.

The federal partnership aims to support community-led efforts to reinvest in existing neighborhoods, protect the environment, and improve residents’ health and quality of life through the development of the local food economy.

Through the program, the city will work with federal, state, and regional experts to address local agricultural, environmental, public health, economic development, and equity issues. They will develop a community-led action plan to strengthen the local food system and spur revitalization of often-overlooked neighborhoods.

Jersey City will partner with residents of the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood to establish a “food value chain.”

The goal is to increase demand for healthy local food, support the local economy by highlighting healthy food businesses, and connect unemployed residents with jobs in food production, aggregation, distribution, service, and disposal.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring together key Jersey City stakeholders to focus on healthy food access and economic revitalization in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Throughout my administration, we have focused a significant amount of City resources into Bergen-Lafayette, and these community convenings will allow us to make important connections to help bring good food and good jobs into one of our most unserved communities.”

An LFLP Steering Committee, composed of city officials and community members will provide guidance.

Food desert

According to a 2018 city report, much of Jersey City could be described as a “food desert.”

The USDA defines a food desert as “a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.”

This means that at least 33 percent of the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

According to the city, these deserts have led to an increased rate of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other diet-related illnesses in the more marginalized communities. Neighborhoods without healthy options, such as the Bergen Lafayette neighborhood in Ward F, also have a high concentrations of fast-food restaurants.

Since the LFLP’s launch in 2014, it has helped more than 120 communities across the country develop local food enterprises, such as farmers markets, community gardens, and cooperative grocery stores, using a place-based approach that improves environmental, economic, and health outcomes in downtowns and neighborhoods. The program pays special attention to overcoming economic challenges, improving equity, and tackling climate change and other factors that can hinder revitalization efforts and residents’ access to affordable healthy food.

“Local Foods, Local Places is a great example of how federal and local partners can come together to support community efforts that build food systems, improve equitable access to healthy food, create job opportunities, and enhance environmental protection efforts,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan. “I am excited to see how these communities thrive over the next several years and become models for other locations across the nation.”

The 13 partner communities are in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

For more information about Local Foods, Local Places, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places

For more information about LFLP communities selected in 2021, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places#2021

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

 

 

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