Feeding the Community
In New Brunswick, the Fresh Grocer was the first full-service supermarket in 20 years. Superintendent Richard Kaplan and mayor James Cahill kickstarted the New Brunswick Wellness Center in order to revitalize the city. The Fresh Grocer, which was a part of the Wellness Center, was intended to improve the community by offering residents employment opportunities, while at the same time selling healthier food options. One of the benefits that the Fresh Grocer was supposed to offer to residents was access to fresh produce, since those without a car would no longer have to drive to another town’s supermarket. Considered a food desert, politicians in New Brunswick aimed to provide residents with better nutritional food choices, rather than processed, sugar or fat- laden food. The Fresh Grocer was located less than a mile from the city’s biggest food deserts. According to Mayor Cahill, well-known supermarket franchises - Pathmark, Stop & Shop, Shop-Rite, and A&P - avoided investing in urban regions like New Brunswick, which left the Mayor puzzled. The Fresh Grocer seemed to be the perfect fit to New Brunswick’s downtown area. Unfortunately, Fresh Grocer closed down on May 14, 2014. According to NJ.com, after just two or three months the full-service supermarket stopped paying their $78,000 monthly rent and owed $1,001,700 to its proprietor, the New Brunswick Parking Authority. The Fresh Grocer was unable to pay off their back rent because they were managed by “New Brunswick Foods LLC,” which offers limited liability to its owners. Without a local supermarket, like the Fresh Grocer, will certain residents still be subject to a food desert effect and therefore excluded from certain resources? If so, how can this be changed?