New Food Depot an Oasis in Newark Food Desert

By Desiree Taylor

The first new supermarket in 22 years in Newark’s Central Ward appears to have gotten off to a good start. The co-owner of Food Depot, Orfilio Chaviano, says foot traffic has been so heavy since last week’s grand opening that it’s been difficult to keep food on the shelves. Chaviano believes this is evidence there’s a huge demand here.

The demand stems from the lack of full service grocery stores. Because of this, city officials describe parts of Newark as food deserts, where fast food is plentiful but healthy food options are limited. The Food Depot is expected to help fill this void because the 31,000 square foot facility offers lots of fresh produce, a variety of food, and it’s within walking distance to a neighborhood and close to a bus stop.

Food Depot has also created jobs in the community. So far, about 120 employees have been hired and about 75 percent of them are Newark residents. The new hires from Newark received job training from a program offered by the Urban League of Essex County.

The $8 million project was paid for, in part, through a $2 million loan from Brick City Development Corporation, the city’s economic development agency. CEO Lyneir Richardson says it’s part of a larger initiative aimed at attracting more grocery stores. He says plans are in the works to bring several more here.