The FRESH food stores program supports convenient, accessible grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods. FRESH has brought healthy food options within walking distance of 1.2 million New Yorkers and counting since the program launched in 2009.
The Food Retail Expansion to Support Health Program (FRESH) was created in 2009 in response to a citywide study, Going to Market. This study highlighted the lack of neighborhood grocery stores providing fresh food options in several New York City communities. Its goal is to encourage stores in these communities that provide a full range of grocery products including fresh meat, fruit and vegetables.
The FRESH zoning incentives program gives property owners the right to construct slightly larger buildings in mixed residential and commercial districts if they include a FRESH supermarket.
A separate FRESH tax benefits program is administered by the NYC Economic Development Corporation. Read more about FRESH tax benefits here.
FRESH encourages partnerships with organizations that want to provide fresh food to their communities, including traditional grocery stores, food co-ops, food hubs, pantries, and others.
Community advocates, property owners, supermarket operators, and anyone interested in food equity can get in touch with FRESH_Info@planning.nyc.gov to learn more about the FRESH zoning incentive program. For more information on the FRESH tax benefits program please complete this form.
FRESH eligibility expanded in December 2021 to encourage supermarkets in even more areas of New York City that are still underserved. Encouraging the development of full-sized supermarkets empowers consumers, increases access, and may provide additional food options through increased competition.
Since 2009, the FRESH zoning program has applied to:
In 2021 FRESH expanded to:
The expansion areas are based on City Planning’s Supermarket Needs Index, which shows neighborhoods that are still underserved by high-quality grocery stores.
Note: These expansion areas applied only to the FRESH zoning incentives program. The tax benefits program did not expand to the areas indicated above.
Some communities have seen clustering of FRESH supermarket applications, which may exceed the intent of FRESH to fill gaps in the local grocery environment. This may make it difficult for stores to prosper. The FRESH update adds specific criteria an applicant must follow to create a new FRESH store near an existing location. These new criteria would limit the potential for oversaturation.
Currently, FRESH food stores are required to have windows on half of any wall that faces the street. This requirement, however, has proven to be impractical and difficult for existing buildings that are trying to renovate to be a FRESH supermarket.
Therefore, for renovations to an existing building to construct a FRESH supermarket, building owners will no longer have to replace existing walls with windows – removing a potentially expensive step in the process.
Since the FRESH update proposes to expand the program into more lower density residential zoning districts, it is important to propose new rules that are appropriate for the characteristics of these neighborhoods.
The FRESH update provides a waiver from required parking for up to 10,000 square feet of FRESH retail area in lower density residential districts.