Promote Certified FRESH Supermarkets in Northwestern Queens

Promote Certified FRESH Supermarkets in Northwestern Queens

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Santino DiFiore started this petition to Queens Community Board 1

The Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program brings healthy and affordable food options to communities by lowering the costs of owning, leasing, developing, and renovating supermarket retail space that must be at least 6,000 square feet.  One of its many requirements is that supermarkets must dedicate 30% of their square footage to the marketing of fresh produce and other perishable goods, as opposed to the smaller, local bodegas which encourage residents to prioritize convenience over their health by marketing mostly non-perishable, processed, preservative-packed foods.

“By expanding FRESH, we take a step towards addressing a long-standing inequity that the pandemic has laid bare – neighborhoods that do not have convenient access to healthy foods for their families. Putting high-quality food on the table and within reach of low-income New Yorkers is a top priority. Our families and communities deserve nothing less,” said Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago. 

By looking at the attached maps, it can be seen that Northwestern Queens has a relatively low density of supermarkets, marked by black dots, and only one tiny FRESH zone on the tip of Hallet's Point, circled in red.  This is where the only certified FRESH supermarket in all of Queens is located.  It is not centralized or easily within reach of the vast majority of the residents of Community District 1.  

Many high quality FRESH supermarkets, marked by large green dots, have been introduced to the various areas, shaded in green, that the initial FRESH program covered in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.  With the proposed expansion of the program being voted on soon, it is time for Queens to speak up and promote the access to the conveniently located, affordable and healthy food options that it deserves.

Recently, we have witnessed the closing of 2 major grocery stores in Community District 1: the Key Foods on 31st Street and Best Market in Ditmars-Steinway.  “The imminent closure of these two stores will deal a serious blow to northern Astoria, which already doesn’t have access to enough quality, nutritious food,” said District 22 Councilman and Land Use Committee member, Costa Constantinides. 

The originally proposed FRESH 2 expansion zone, highlighted in yellow, begins on the western coast of Astoria and terminates shortly after 31st Street.  A more recent proposition suggests decreasing the area so that it would not include the areas negatively impacted by the recent closures of the Key Foods on 31st Street and the Best Market that was nearby.  The area that would be affected by this sudden change in thought is a prime location in the center of Astoria with train stations, parks, schools and many large apartment buildings.  For these reasons, among many others, the proposed expansion of the program in Community District 1 should be passed without its originally proposed size being reduced so that the community may better benefit from easy access to the affordable, healthy foods that many other communities have had access to for over a decade.

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