By Young Soo Yang
A ribbon cutting ceremony held Tuesday marked the opening of the new Food Depot Supermarket at 75 First Street in Newark’s Central Ward. It’s the neighborhood’s first new supermarket in 22 years.
The Food Depot Supermarket is a 31,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility that offers a hot food deli with seating for customers, 10 checkout lines for fast customer service and a well-lit efficient space for customers to shop. More importantly, the new supermarket gives Newark’s residents access to healthier food options like fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We just came in, and we see fresh foods that we like. This supermarket was much needed,” said Robin McNair, a Central Ward resident who was shopping at the Food Depot.
Denise Acosta, a Central Ward resident agrees saying, “Fresh fruits and vegetables are what I’m here for. It’s a challenge to get quality fresh fruit around here.”
The new Food Depot is said to create more than 100 jobs. The employees were recruited and trained by the Urban League of Essex County (ULEC). NewarkWORKS provided funding to The Urban League to prepare Newark residents for employment. A total of 150 Newark residents received training in customer service and retail skills. A total of 150 resumés were submitted to Food Depot Human Resources for interviews and employment consideration. As of today, Food Depot has hired a total of 120 Newark residents in various retail positions.
“A grocery store sustains a community in so many ways. First and foremost, a grocery store provides the daily nourishment – the daily bread – people need to work, learn, and grow. A grocery store provides jobs. And a grocery store quickly becomes a community landmark, a place where neighbors interact. So for all of these reasons, I am ecstatic that this new Food Depot has opened today, the first new full-service grocery store in the Central Ward in decades,” said Mayor Cory Booker.
The new supermarket is an $8 million project that was funded in part with a loan from the Brick City Development Corporation/Urban Enterprise Zone Loan Fund, which is part of the Supermarket Initiative of BCDC’s Fresh Foods Program. BCDC created the Fresh Foods Program to increase fresh food retailing, to mitigate the health effects of poor nutrition and to spur economic development by bringing in new supermarkets. The Fresh Foods Program is expanding the capacity of existing small grocers and increasing the number of farmers’ markets in the City.