Fresh Direct Will Take Food Stamps, Deliver to the Bronx

Friday, May 18, 2012

Online Grocer Fresh Direct is expanding its delivery area to include all of the Bronx — and not just the more affluent parts. The company says it will also accept food stamps at a few select locations as part of a pilot program.

Fresh Direct said it was still working out the details of the food stamp program and couldn't say yet in what locations, the public benefit would be accepted. But the new expanded Bronx delivery area will begin on May 21.

The grocer had received criticism about its limited delivery area in its soon-to-be new home borough. The company is planning to relocate its facilities from Long Island City to Mott Haven in the Bronx, along some prime waterfront property, and will receive $128 million dollars in loans, grants, tax credits and other benefits for the move.

The company’s announcement on Friday is seen by some as a gesture to appease local opposition. But it wasn't enough for Bronx resident Kristin Hart of the Fort Independence Neighborhood Association. She believes the company's trucks will pollute the area and block water front access

"They took the easiest of all the things that people were discussing to address," said Hart. "The really core issue here is waterfront access to the people of the Bronx just like the waterfront access that the rest of the city enjoys."

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce supports Fresh Direct and said the company will create 1,000 jobs in a borough with high unemployment. Lenny Caro, president of the chamber, believed the company was doing its best to reach out to the community. "It's a way in the right direction to start to say, 'Bronx, we're here but we also want to be a part of your community and in order to do that we're willing to work with you,'" Caro said.

In a press release the company said it would spend $112 million to build its new headquarters and create hundreds of new constructions jobs in doing so.

"As we continue to grow and create jobs in New York City, we are thrilled that we are now able to serve the entire Bronx and provide residents there with convenient access to quality, fresh foods," wrote Jason Ackerman, CEO of Fresh Direct.

But there is skepticism over whether the jobs will materialize. "There is nothing guaranteeing anything. There's just proposals and vague promises," said Harry Bubbins of the South Bronx Unite Coalition, a group that started a campaign to boycott Fresh Direct. Bubbins complained that the public was never given a chance to weigh in on what would fill this waterfront space.


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Comments [8]

fredrick scott from Bronx

Fresh direct has been firing employees who have worked for them for years. Are they getting rid of higher wage earners for less paid and skilled workers? how can this help create jobs for the city or Bronx.

May. 31 2012 04:45 PM
Shannon Lee Gilstad from Bronx, NY

Sign the petitions and Boycott Fresh Direct:

May. 22 2012 02:43 PM
Dirk Ewers from Bronx

As a parent, I am particularly concerned about the increase in air pollution, especially since my child's school will be a few blocks from the site. As a South Bronx resident, the myopic vision of the three stooges, Cuomo, Bloomberg, and Diaz, is nothing but stupefying, considering all the issues the South Bronx faces in terms of health, environment and long-term growth and development. Are there any urban planners that take into consideration the dire needs of the community when coming up with such a scheme? Apparently not. Any sane person would think this is completely insane. It defies any logic. What reality is Fresh Direct and its CEO, Ackerman, living in? Certainly not the reality that we face every day in the South Bronx. I object, no I am disgusted by this kind of publicity stunt, which now includes $100 bonuses for first time users. Schieb es Dir in den Arsch, Ackerman!

May. 19 2012 11:34 PM

I wish a reporter would investigate to whose campaigns Fresh Direct and its CEO Jason Ackerman are donating money. Has he given money to New York City politicians, who've basically paid him back x100 with our tax dollars?

It was absolutely ridiculous to hand over almost $130 million dollars because Ackerman threatened to move FD to New Jersey. He would never, ever have been willing to pay the truck tolls to cross into NYC to deliver.

This was simply a payoff.

I used to be a FD regular, but no more. Join the boycott!

May. 19 2012 05:35 PM

So they are going to accept food stamps? Sounds like they are far from making that decision.

May. 19 2012 04:20 PM
Mott Haven Resident from Mott Haven, Bronx

FreshDirect's announcement simply does nothing to address, much less assuage, our community's serious objections to this improvident use of public land and public money. FreshDirect proposes to bring 2,000 additional vehicle trips, 1,000 additional truck trips, and 3,000 tons of solid waste per day to a community that already has one of the highest asthma rates in the country. FreshDirect proposes to receive almost $130 million in public money without giving any enforceable promise of creating even a single new job, much less creating any such jobs for members of our community, which is the poorest Congressional District in the country. FreshDirect proposes to put a 500,000 square foot facility and a separate truck depot on acres of public, waterfront land, thereby undermining decades of positive development and further frustrating our community's efforts to gain access to our waterfront. Further, Mr. Diaz's assertions that FreshDirect will be a "good neighbor" and is "changing their entire business model" for the Bronx are flatly contradicted by the facts. FreshDirect benefits from -- and arguably exists solely because of -- substantial public subsidies and has done so since its inception. FreshDirect is not "now able to serve" the Bronx, as Mr. Ackerman suggests, it is now willing to serve the Bronx and to accept SNAP benefits only because of mounting pressure from citizens and their elected officials. FreshDirect showed its true loyalty to New York City when it played New York and New Jersey against each other to squeeze even more money out of the public coffers, all the while failing to disclose to New York officials that FreshDirect 's own analysis shows that it would be economically feasible for FreshDirect to remain in Long Island City and simply expand. Stop treating our community like a dumping ground. Stop undermining the positive, sustainable development of our community. Stop frustrating our efforts to gain access to our waterfront. Stop FreshDirect.

May. 19 2012 12:12 AM
David Brandon from Port Morris

"The easiest of all things," well stated. Fresh Direct must be feeling the community pressure. They had plenty of time before to deliver to the Bronx, so why now? Of course, for $130 million in taxpayer money, they have to show some token of appreciation to the community that will be impacted by 2,000 more trucks. But, Fresh Direct is still missing the point. If it's all about where and when and how efficient, and how environmentally friendly they might deliver their groceries to their customers, why don't they expand their facilities in Long Island City, Queens? I guess it wouldn't come with a $130 million delivery bonus, paid for by New York City and the State of New York.
The point is, waterfront access for the residents of the South Bronx. Let's put the money into developing this public land into some sustainable development with urban farms, mixed development (residential and small businesses - the latter recirculates the money many more times in the community than a large corporation that is only accountable to out of town shareholders), and waterfront access with potential for recreational activities. Wouldn't that address some of the South Bronx problems, like obesity? But, I guess I must have gotten it wrong, because Fresh Direct is not about improving the quality of life in the community where they operate. So, let us expose the myopic vision of our political leaders and cancel this rotten deal, now and forever.

May. 18 2012 09:49 PM
Jessica from Harlem

Wow, they are still trying to put Fresh Direct there? Makes no sense. Why give them $130 million of our money for their company like I read about before. Will Cuomo stop this I hope, crazy...

May. 18 2012 09:28 PM

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