Grants are great first step toward solving Salem County’s food desert crisis, says McCarthy Patrick

Grants are great first step toward solving Salem County’s food desert crisis, says McCarthy Patrick

Bethanne McCarthy Patrick

TRENTON, N.J. – The City of Salem and Penns Grove in Salem County are receiving $125,000 and $100,000, respectively, through a grant program administered by the Economic Development Authority to address the area’s lack of grocery stores and access to fresh food. Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick, who has been meeting with state and local officials as well as nonprofits and industry experts to discuss the food desert issue in Salem County, applauded the news as a great first step. 

“The City of Salem is one of the top 10 food desert communities in the state and one of a handful of food deserts that impacts an entire municipality. The importance of a grant to guide the future of fresh food access here cannot be understated,” McCarthy Patrick (R-Salem) said. “The grants are the first step toward a healthier tomorrow for Salem County residents facing food insecurity.”

Salem’s grant money will support a study to improve the region’s supply chain with the goal of getting food from local producers to the city’s nearly 5,500 residents, according to the EDA’s announcement. Penns Grove’s grant will study the feasibility of bringing a full-service grocery store to the 13,500 residents living in its food desert. 

“Food insecurity is a major issue for many of our residents who also struggle with poverty, unemployment and health problems. Removing the barriers to fresh and wholesome food will have a ripple effect on not only our economy, but the wellbeing of our residents who deserve nutritious meals,” McCarthy Patrick added. 

McCarthy Patrick said she will continue to work with the county commissioners, the EDA and community leaders to see the grant through implementation and conclusion to ensure the studies lead to real results.

“Cutting the ribbon on a new supermarket and announcing a new initiative that takes advantage of this county’s agriculture industry by delivering New Jersey-grown, farm-fresh food to the residents of Salem are my ultimate end goals,” she said. “It is my commitment to my constituents to see that the results of these studies inform action.”