Where to Grocery Shop?: Exploring Food Insecurity in Newark From the 1930s to Present Day
by Cara Willis
I am interested in exploring the relationship with food and the citizens of Newark New Jersey. I plan on doing this by analyzing over time the different food markets available from the 1930s to the 1950s then from the 1960s to the 1980s and finally until present day. I do not have one singular site I am focusing on rather multiple different food markets in the city ranging from butcher shops, to supermarkets, to community gardens, and corner stores also known as mom and pop stores.
The Thanksgiving Disaster
Food is an integral part of our lives and it’s a commonality that brings families together every day, especially during the holidays. Turkey, chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread stuffing, collards, and yams were the dishes that decorated the table last year on Thanksgiving day at my house in Newark, New Jersey. Everything looked and smelled wonderful except for one odd smell coming from the oven. It’s not turkey or the chicken, but it’s coming from the lasagna in the oven. It doesn’t smell like the rest of the food but has an odd and unpleasant odor. When I ask my mom about it, she ensured us that everything is ok. However, everything was not ok because when my uncle, who used to be a chef came over, he told my mom the off smell was the smell of bad meat that she bought for the lasagna and when she was not looking, he threw it in the garbage. My mom was not happy when she discovered that her brother threw out her dish that she worked hours preparing. However, this experience was my moms first time using Prosciutto from the butcher’s counter at our local supermarket, Food Depot, around the corner from my house and her last time ever shopping there.
Food shopping is a routine task in most households to stock up on groceries, but in Newark, you have to carefully select the stores you shop at. Newark consists of corner stores, stores owned by individuals that sell food and nonfood related items and are usually located on the corner of streets, community gardens, and small and large chain supermarkets. However, even though there are plenty of stores to shop at which ones are best? Are chain supermarkets whose names are not as well-known as ShopRite safe to shop at or must consumers still travel long distances to go to a trusted brand? That was what my mom did. She traveled over two miles away from our home to go to the ShopRite in the neighboring city of East Orange. This caused me to wonder how common is this experience in other households and has it always been this way? What has the relationship between food and the citizens of Newark been like over time? How has it changed for the better and for the worse since the 1940s? How did the Newark riots change food accessibility and quality in the city? What kind of activism was started to ensure that healthy and nutritious foods are still accessible to our community? How are food quality and accessible dealt with today?
I answered these questions by exploring and analyzing a variety of different sources. I began my search by defining what is food insecurity. Food insecurity is the inability to provide enough food to meet the needs of the family due to insufficient funds to do so. [i] In order to look at how food impacted the citizens of Newark during the 1930s to 1960s it involved me going to the Newark Public Library’s New Jersey Room and looking through old newspaper clippings to find evidence regarding food shopping during that time. I found an article written by a Rutgers student in 2016 about the history of how Supermarkets were introduced to the city of Newark. Along with that, I conducted an oral interview with my mother, Ms. Jackson, who has lived in the area since she was a child. I wanted to compare her experience as she shopped in Newark with her grandmother and mother during the 1960s and her experience shopping with her own children as an adult. I created a detailed map showcasing all the places my mother did her food shopping at growing up and the reason she stopped going there. The map is in chronological order starting from when I was a small child up until my high school graduation.
In order to understand Newark’s food systems, one must examine the history of Food in Newark overtime. I will begin by focusing on the time periods between the 1920s to the 1940s and explore the rise of the supermarket industry and the effects it had on the local business owners. Next, I will explore how the Newark riots in 1967 impacted the quality and accessibility of food markets in the city. I will analyze the reason local businesses and larger supermarkets stores left the city, the stores that stayed and how they were impacted, and the new stores that opened up after the incident. In addition, I will highlight and explain the local activism such as the creation of community gardens like the Greater Newark Conservancy and the healthy corner store initiative that is revamping corner stores in urban neighborhoods. Finally, I will analyze how food accessibility and quality is being handled today. I will present a holistic picture of Newark and the different food options that are available within the city and use an image analysis as well as an oral interview to discuss from a consumer’s perspective the way the city is approaching the food desert within the city of Newark, NJ.
For a brief overview of this project, see the following link:
The Supermarket Boom and the Local Market Bust in Newark
The city of Newark was a city that housed many major and small businesses so it was only natural for it to be one of the first city’s to be introduced to the new idea of supermarkets. The first supermarket to open in Newark was Big Bear on Broadway in the early 1930s. However, though a convenient way of shopping today supermarkets was a novel idea that had a rough start in the beginning. Big Bear sold products ranging from deserts to corn flakes but many of the small grocery stores surrounding the store were threatened by the bargain prices and sent a delegate to City Hall to voice their concerns. The governing body sympathized with the small business owners and in two weeks passed an ordinance making supermarkets illegal.[i] The very idea of outlawing a place for consumers to shop because local businesses were threatened is shocking. What was even more shocking was when the city told the chief of police to raid the Big Bear and have it closed up. When the police arrived at the scene they told all customers to leave and arrested the manager officially closing the store. Eventually, after a few months, the New Jersey courts deemed the ordinance unconstitutional but the damage was already done. Even though the decision was reversed Big Bear never opened its doors again.[ii] However, this ordinance did not hinder supermarkets from coming to the city.
The presence of Big Bear led to the countless other chain supermarkets and small independent chain supermarkets to build their very own locations in the city of Newark. Atlantic and Pacific, also known as A&P, followed a similar business model to Big Bear by retailing their goods at lower prices while also providing an assortment of goods that were not food related. However, to ensure that local business owners were not left out of the wealth, during the 1930s and 1940s, shopkeepers could wholesale their specialty foods to supermarkets in their areas such as to Kings grocery store during the 1930s and 1940s. Despite such collaborations supermarkets had more advantages over the local shopkeepers that allowed them to last longer and attract more consumers. They had greater financial resources since they were connected to larger parent companies. The government had an impact on price controls that affected chain supermarkets more than local independent shops around the time of World War II. For example, if a retail store exceeded 250,000 dollars in sales they had to lower the fixed price on meat by a cent or two cents per pound. This helped chain supermarkets attract more business since the smaller shops could not afford to charge that low. Chain supermarkets also had the ability to buy and negotiate from wholesalers in larger volumes that allowed them to still make a profit despite the cap the government put onto prices.[iii] All of these factors caused chain supermarkets to succeed in the new market. This may also be the reason small business owners targeted Big Bear in the 1960s since their stores were suffering from the success of the new chain grocery stores.
Due to the competition of chain supermarkets, during the 1940s and 1960s small businesses began to suffer financially. The introduction of supermarkets did not affect their business at first but eventually due to the competitive pricing and the idea of one place to attain all shopping needs, was causing them to lose business. The quality of the food that citizens were getting did not seem to be affected. Wanda Jackson, who grew up in or around the city of Newark her entire life, recounts going to the butchers counters with her grandmother who would go into the store and request “how much fat to put in, to debone the meat, what cuts of meat, and had to be pretty educated to shop at the butchers counters.”[iv] For fruits and vegetables, there was a cart on the corner of Broad and Cedar street in Newark that came every Saturday from the farm to deliver fresh produce to the masses. However, that stand only came into the city on Saturdays and it was the only one.[v] This shows the lack of accessibility there was during the late 1960s. Meats, poultry, produce and home goods were all located in Downtown Newark.
Click below to listen to my oral interview with longtime Newark resident Wanda Jackson:
Ms. Jackson who lived in the neighboring city of East Orange had to travel over 2 miles away from home to have access to fresh produce and meat. Supermarkets at the time were a great solution because it allowed for a wider variety of produce, worked with local butcher shops to include their inventory on the shelves of supermarkets, and they were congested in urban areas. Due to supermarkets being in populated urban areas, some consumers that lived in suburban cities had to travel into cities like Newark for their shopping needs. Having to travel such great distance did not make supermarkets easily accessible at first resulting in the reason why consumers still regularly shopped at local businesses for their grocery needs. Therefore, the city during the 1930s and 1940s had to make sure that food availability was more accessible and affordable, which is where the appeals of the supermarkets come in at.
The Newark Riots: Where did All the Supermarkets Go?
The City of Newark is infamous for the uprisings that occurred in Newark in 1967. The uprising was an event that was bound to happen due to a variety of issues that affected Newark residents. These issues consisted of a high percentage of substandard housing, minorities were ill-prepared in education due to the lack of funding and maintenance of Newark High Schools, blue collar jobs were moving out of the city and given to mostly white candidates, and racial tensions were quite high between black residents and the police force due to police brutality. The riots lasted for three days and in the aftermath left 26 people dead, 1500 injured, and $10 million reported in property losses.[i] As a result of the riots, many shop owners and most of the white population moved out of the city to the neighboring cities of Bellville, Cherry Hill, or Montclair. Most of the properties were left vacant causing the once busy shopping center in the North portion of Jersey to be vacant.
Some of the people that fled the city were the local butchers and poultry shop owners. As a result, there was a shortage of food that could be found within the city. In 1981, there were only five supermarkets operating within the city and with Newark being the largest state in New Jersey with 320,000 residents, five supermarkets are not sufficient to provide the needs for that many people. Many of those markets were also not easily accessible to most citizens, with the result that many residents were forced to shop at “mom and pop” stores, sought out warehouses for meat wholesalers, and to buy fruits and vegetables on Mulberry Street in Newark.[ii]
Critics can argue this situation is similar to what was going on before the riots. Consumers that lived in the suburbs still had to travel to get access to food miles away from their homes since supermarkets tended to be in urban areas, but local shop owners were still around to alleviate that burden. Now that local shops had left due to the uprisings the number of supermarkets decreased accessibility to food products were sparse At the time the Councilman Ralph T Grant wanted to rectify this situation so he met with food chain executives to discuss additional markets. However, due to the high amount of pilferage from employees and customers, the executives were reluctant to open additional stores.[iii]
Executives were not only reluctant to open more stores they were also not properly upkeeping them. In 1973, Foodtown was a grocery retailer that consumers complained about to the Newark Office of Consumer Action about having high prices for low-quality food. The Office of Consumer Action conducted an investigation and determined that the price difference was not drastic, but the sanitary conditions were definitely an issue. Three years later in 1976 Debra Brown, who worked in the Newark office of Consumer Action and was an instrumental part of conducting the initial surveys, decided to take a tour of several Foodtown stores in the city to check on the progress. Though the stores had improved from their initial visit there were still issues of mold being on the shelves, stains on the walls, and insects were present in the store. When Debra Brown confronted the director of personnel he says the stores are currently undergoing a cleanup campaign.[iv] The store has had three years to implement this cleanup campaign and there are still very prominent flaws still. During this time the quality and sanitation conditions of supermarkets like Foodtown were questionable causing citizens to seek for their food shopping needs elsewhere. The only stores other than the supermarkets during this time period were butcher shops and “mom and pop” style of stores that did not necessarily have all of the nutritious foods but definitely were far cleaner.
Although, executives were hesitant about opening supermarkets that did not hinder residents from opening their own. In 1981, Sultan Muhammad opened up his own co-op store in Newark that would serve a total of 10,000 families within a four block radius. The shop offered nonperishable items and dry goods. Though the limited inventory was not optimal, he did offer a program where for $10 a month the consumer had a voice in the store’s operation, participation in consumer meetings, and controlling product quality.[v] The store’s inventory provided the residents with what they needed, but access to fresh fruits and vegetables are not items that he sold, unfortunately. So even though he had great programs put into place he did not have a section of the store designated to offering more than nonperishable items. Most stores like Muhammad promoted processed foods in a can that were convenient but not necessarily healthy. However, he was open to the input of the residents around him in order to make the shopping experience as convenient as possible. These types of stores were common in the city of Newark and sold mostly canned goods, milk, eggs, cereal, and other types of processed foods. The stores lacked nutritious options but were convenient since they were closer than the supermarkets in the city and cleaner.
After the riots, the accessibility and quality of supermarkets were a concern with the city of Newark. There were not enough grocery stores in Newark’s five wards and the few that were there were not sanitary at all good. This left residents to go to mom and pop shops that did not sell fresh produce, but the quality and accessibility were far more superior to that of supermarkets like Food Town.
Activism: What Can We Do?
The dilemma of food quality and accessibility had become such an issue by the 1980s that citizens decided to solve the problem themselves. One solution was the creation of urban gardens. The Greater Newark Conservancy was founded in 1987 with the intention to improve the quality of life in urban communities by promoting environmental stewardship. Once construction on the building was complete in 2004, they hosted several inner-city children for environmental education field trips. The field trip emphasized the environment as important for their learning by having them participate in living labs, outreach lessons, gardening, and several other programs.
While educating the youth, the Conservancy also had an urban farming program where they have turned vacant lots into urban farms while also teaching residents of all ages the process of raising their own produce. In addition to teaching them how to grow food the staff also demonstrate ways to prepare the foods to maintain their nutritious qualities. For those not interested in growing their own produce there are several farm stands that are set up throughout the city run by the youth, I was one of them for the summer of 2015, to sell the fresh produce grown in the garden to residents in the city.[i] Newark has had a history of limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Until the first supermarkets were built in the city in the 1930s the only place to acquire fresh nutritious food was through a produce stand that came to downtown Newark once a week. The Conservancy has decided to bring the farm to the city.
Similar to Greater Newark Conservancy, the American Heart Association along with their partners, The Food Trust Organization and New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, created the Healthy Corner Store initiative in an effort to promote healthy food options across urban cities. In 2004, the Healthy Corner Store Initiative was founded in order to increase food access, combat obesity and other diet-related diseases, and increase sales in small businesses. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative was introduced into the city of Newark during 2016 by Governor Chris Christie.[ii] In an effort to motivate the youth and adults to buy healthier items by direct marketing in the corner stores and through classroom education. The Healthy Corner Store initiatives goal is to increase store’s capacity to sell healthy food items to improve healthy options, training store owners on how to make the healthy changes profitable, linking store owners with urban farmers to create and sustain a healthy corner store, along with other goals as well.[iii] In the city of Newark, there are four corner stores participating in this initiative.[iv] As the program grows and more corner store owners learn of the initiative hopefully this concept will continue to spread especially since corner stores are much more common and accessible to residents.
Through these initiatives along with the growing business of supermarkets, Newark is becoming a more well-rounded city when it comes to offering healthy and nutritious foods in a variety of different ways. Corner Stores are no longer just offering processed foods. There are currently four corner stores in the city of Newark who is involved in the Healthy Corner Store initiative. Hopefully, that number will grow as time goes on. The Greater Newark Conservancy has inspired other urban farms to be created in the city as well such as Down Bottoms Farm in the Ironbound section as well as the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District.
A Food Desert No More?: A Modern Day Outlook on Food Accessibility and Quality in Newark
The resident of Newark has diversified its options when it comes to food options. Yet, food affordability, quality, and accessibility is still an issue within the community. In 2014, a Key Foods was shutting its doors after being open for only a year. Residents in this area did not have healthy food options in their neighborhoods until Key Foods was built. City Officials responded to the closing saying that sales did not come in as strongly as they had hoped for. When the news reporter reached out to one of the owners, he said the reason they closed was because of high rent, construction delays, and the inability to get food stamps through WIC, a program for low-income mothers to provide for themselves and children. However, the waiting list to receive a WIC license was long since there were 49 other stores ahead of them on the waiting list to serve as WIC vendors. There are a very limited amount of these licenses given out since only 7 vendors per 1000 participants will receive a license. This inability to get the license caused residents to not shop there due to the high prices which resulted in sales being low.
The WIC program the owners of the Key Foods were on the waiting list for, stands for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The program is designed to assist low income nutritionally at-risk infants, children up to five years old, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and nonbreastfeeding women by providing them with access to nutritional education, referrals to health care services, and supplemental nutritious foods. In order to provide women and children with access to supplemental nutritious foods, food stamps are distributed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, also known as SNAP. The families that are eligible for SNAP can then purchase healthy food and move towards self- sufficiency with the help of government assistance. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service administers the program and has several field offices set up throughout to monitor retail food stores participating in SNAP. Many families in the city of Newark happen to be in the program and since Key Foods was unable to obtain the license it resulted in them having to close the store after only a year of operation.
The supermarkets in the area that are approved WIC vendors are Western Beef, Food Depot, and Bravo that my mother visited. All had their flaws, but my mom shopped at all these places. Western Beef had a very bad smell which was a result of ” dealing with organs of animals the smell of blood is really what we were smelling.” Later she recounts telling her mother, my grandmother, of the smell and she told her “Oh, no you are never supposed to go into a place and you can smell the blood before you enter the doors. It means they weren’t clean.” That comment from my grandmother caused my mother to never set foot into the establishment again. Once Western Beef was annexed she moved onto Bravo supermarket which although did not have a horrible odor was limited in their selection and she preferred something larger.
Then she visited Food Depot and that is where she purchased the Prosciutto to make the lasagna that Thanksgiving dinner night. My mom believes the reason the meat smelled rancid is due to her “ cooking it earlier the day before and it had set out on the hot stove while [she] was cooking other things. And when she put it in the refrigerator the change of temperature affected it somehow.” That explanation is plausible for the reason that the meat had gone bad, but based on other shoppers experience there is a pattern of rancid meat being sold to consumers and the selling of expired food during sales which can be seen on Yelp review pages. However, nevertheless, my mother stopped shopping there and ventured over two miles away from home to the neighboring city of East Orange to ShopRite to handle all of her shopping needs. That is until the Shop Rite in Newark on Springfield Ave opened in 2015.
Shortly after the ShopRite opened Whole Foods followed opening in 2017. Whole Foods is known as the grocery store that sells organic and natural foods, which is unique since other chain supermarkets did not have a mission to sell organic or natural food. Today, consumers are more health conscious about how their food is being handled so many consumers are beginning to gravitate towards stores like Whole Foods opposed to Shop Rite. In a city that has only been accustomed to supermarkets like Pathmark that did not advertise, I wanted to analyze how the introduction of Whole Foods has affected the consumers shopping experience.
These two pictures above were captured by myself on Friday, April 5, 2018. April 5 is the weekend of the first of the month which is payday for working class people and food stamps are issued for women in the WIC program and participants in the SNAP program since it is the beginning of the month. In this image, it is important to notice what consumers are buying in both pictures. At ShopRite, consumers are choosing to buy more products as opposed to Whole Foods. If we look at the cart for the man in at ShopRite he has chosen to buy frozen dinners, a jug of what looks like it might be Sweet Tea, cookies, grape jelly, bananas, oatmeal, bread, and cheese. Most of the things in his cart do not contain any nutritional value besides the bananas everything else is processed, full of salt and sugar, and full of preservatives. This shows that even though Shoprite offers more financially accessible products consumers are still choosing to eat poorly. In Whole Foods, consumers are not using Whole Foods for their grocery shopping needs, but to pick up lunch. Everyone in line is holding a box that contains the food from the pre-prepared table that they made a lunch out of. So even though consumers are buying more at ShopRite they aren’t buying nutritional food and at Whole Foods, businessmen and women come here for lunch, but not necessarily to do grocery shopping.
Another aspect of the image important to take notice of is the last minute purchase section beside the checkout counter of both supermarkets. At Shoprite, there is a fridge full of soda and energy drink that does not offer any nutritional value and it does not quench your thirst if you are thirsty. At Wholefoods, to the left of the picture there is a plant protein smoothie mix made of coconuts and almonds that are being displayed as a last minute purchase. Almonds are a great source for protein and are it a much healthier alternative to soda but it is marketed at $16.99 for smoothie mix. which only further proves that consumers that are not as financially secure will be more likely not to buy a protein smoothie and that Whole Foods is not economical for most people. Judging by how full it is the business people are not jumping to buy it either at that price.
Whole Foods has definitely filled a void in a community where there should be a market where consumers can buy organic and natural products and not only have access to it through farm stands and farmers markets. However, the price of Whole Foods has definitely affected the shopping experience of its consumers. Ms. Jackson believed that “ Whole Foods is meant for people who make over $50,000 a year and are really health conscious,” but does not feel like Whole Foods was “put there for us.” By us, she means the African American and Hispanic American community that already reside in the city. Whole Foods is not a market that is apart of the WIC program so people in the city looking to be more health conscious that are in low-income households cannot take advantage of the benefits that Whole Foods have to offer. Though Whole Foods is not apart of the WIC program, ShopRite is and has extended itself to offer all natural meats, but not organic and natural products. With these choices in mind, Ms. Jackson prefers to shop at ShopRite since prices are reasonable and if she wanted to she could purchase a few all natural products.
Despite the improvement of the food insecurity issue in Newark, this is not a problem isolated to Newark. All across the nation, there are people that suffer from food insecurity. In the United States in 2017 there were 7.3% of households that had low security which is the same as 9.3 million households. The food insecurity epidemic is a national issue that needs to be resolved with diverse types of markets. Markets that sell organic and natural products that are also reasonably priced so that consumers across all spectrums can shop there and not feel like they were excluded from the perks. Partner with government assistance program so that low-income households can take advantage of healthy and nutritious foods just like the middle-class people. Supermarkets need to be widely dispersed to not only urban areas but also rural and urban areas as well to ensure that 9.3 million households are not experiencing food insecurity.
“About WIC- WIC at a Glance,” USDA, accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-wic-glance.
Bailey M. Edna. “Trials of Food Shopping.” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), November 2, 1981.
Dilworth, Kevin. “Grocery Co-op Aims to Keep the Lid on Costs.” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), January 12, 1981.
Guest, Star-Ledger. “Greater Newark Conservancy: City’s Best Kept Secret.” Nj.com. November 24, 2010. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://www.nj.com/newark/community/2010/11/greater_newark_conservancy_citys_best_kept_secret.html.
“In Corner Stores,” The Food Trust, accessed May 12, 2019, http://thefoodtrust.org/what-we-do/corner-store.
“Interactive Charts and Highlights.” USDA ERS – Interactive Charts and Highlights. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/interactive-charts-and-highlights/#trends.
Jackson, Wanda. Home. By Cara Willis, April 2019
Johnson, Rudy. “ Spot Check of Supermarkets in Newark Shows Flaws Amid Reviving Businesses.” New York Times (Newark, NJ), August 10, 1976.
“Key Food Closes in Newark, Leaving Residents in ‘Food Desert.” PBS. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/video/njtoday-key-food-closes-newark-leaving-residents-food-desert/.
McCabe, Thomas. “July 1967 Revisited.” Presentation in History of Newark Lecture at Rutgers University Newark, Newark, NJ, Thursday, November 1, 2018.
McElroy, James.” Filling in the Grocery Gap: Supermarkets and the Shaping of the Food Retail Landscape in Newark, NJ, 1950-1990,” RUCore Libraries, May 2016, https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/50542/PDF/1/play/.
“New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative.” The NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://njhealthycornerstores.heart.org/.
Shafer O. Richard. “1st supermarket brought protest and a raid.” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), June 25, 1961.
“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).” USDA. Accessed May 17, 2019. https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program.
[i] “Interactive Charts and Highlights,” USDA ERS – Interactive Charts and Highlights, accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/interactive-charts-and-highlights/#trends.
[i] Unfortunately, I could not locate the Ordinance. I went to my local law library and they only had a record up to 1966 and the Ordinance would have been written in 1961. I do not doubt the validity of the article I just wanted to know how this law affected the other supermarkets in the city.
[ii] Richard O. Shafer “1st supermarket brought protest and a raid,” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), June 25, 1961. I found a clipping of this article at the Newark Public Library in the New Jersey Room in a folder named Newark Stores. This folder holds all newspaper stories in regards to stores from before the 1970s.
[iii] James McElroy,” Filling in the “Grocery Sap”: supermarkets and the Shaping of the Food Retail Landscape in Newark, NJ, 1950-1990,” RUCore Libraries, May 2016, https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/50542/PDF/1/play/.
[iv] Wanda Jackson (Newark Native) interviewed by Cara Willis, April 2019
[v] Wanda Jackson (Newark Native) interviewed by Cara Willis, April 2019
[ii] Edna M. Bailey, “Trials of Food Shopping” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), November 2, 1981. This Newspaper clipping can be found in the New Jersey room at the Newark Public Library labeled Newark Stores- Food.
[iii] Edna M. Bailey, “Trials of Food Shopping” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) November 2, 1981. This Newspaper clipping can be found in the New Jersey room at the Newark Public Library labeled Newark Stores- Food.
[iv] Rudy Johnson, “ Spot Check of Supermarkets in Newark Shows Flaws Amid Reviving Businesses” New York Times (Newark, NJ) August 10, 1976. This Newspaper clipping can be found in the New Jersey room at the Newark Public Library labeled Newark Stores- Food.
[v] Kevin Dilworth, “Grocery Co-op Aims to Keep the Lid on Costs” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) January 12, 1981. This Newspaper clipping can be found in the New Jersey room at the Newark Public Library labeled Newark Stores- Food.
[i] Star-Ledger Guest, “Greater Newark Conservancy: City’s Best Kept Secret,” Nj.com, November 24, 2010, https://www.nj.com/newark/community/2010/11/greater_newark_conservancy_citys_best_kept_secret.html.
[ii] “New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative,” The NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative, accessed May 17, 2019, https://njhealthycornerstores.heart.org/.
[iv] This just pictures a table of all the stores in New Jersey that are participating in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. However, this webpage does not provide much information about where it comes from so I’m unable to cite it correctly but this is the link. https://www.njymca.org/clientuploads/nj%20corner%20stores/NJ%20Healthy%20Corner%20Stores.pdf
 “Key Food Closes in Newark, Leaving Residents in ‘Food Desert.” PBS. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/video/njtoday-key-food-closes-newark-leaving-residents-food-desert/.
 “About WIC- WIC at a Glance,” USDA, accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-wic-glance.
 “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” USDA, accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program
 “WIC,” Department of Health | WIC | Find a WIC Approved Store Near Me, accessed May 12, 2019, https://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/wic/participants/find-wic-store/.
 Wanda Jackson (Newark Native) interview by Cara Willis, April 2019
 Wanda Jackson (Newark Native) interviewed by Cara Willis, April 2019
 Wanda Jackson (Newark Native) interviewed by Cara Willis, April 2019
 “Interactive Charts and Highlights,” USDA ERS – Interactive Charts and Highlights, accessed May 17, 2019, https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/interactive-charts-and-highlights/#trends.
This source contains a map of the Fairmount, Upper Roseville, Central Business District, and Ironbound in Newark in 2016. The map shows different food retail stores from convenience store , which sell junk food mostly, and supermarkets, which sell a more balanced food diet. In addition to a food demographic of the area, the map also depicts the percent of the population is below the poverty line within the four neighborhood. Notice how the neighborhoods that fall below the poverty line have no access to food around them. This map will help me show the issue of the lack of food access in some neighborhoods and the unequal amount of convenience stores and supermarkets.
Title: Key Foods Closes in Newark, NJ
This clip is from 2014 and it shows a local supermarket being closed down. City officials said that the supermarket was not doing well due to low sales. However, the News reporter was able to get in contact with the owner who says that the reason the store wasn’t doing well was due to the high rent, construction delays, and the inability to get a WIC license. The owner applied for one but there were 49 other stores ahead of him so the chances of him getting that license were slim. This can be used in my research to show that citizens are not the only ones affected by the issues surrounding food inequality but so are the owners of said stores who are trying to fill a void in a city that desperately need it.
Title: WIC Approved Stores
After listening to the news clip I decided to do some research on the amount of stores that are approved for a WIC license. Based on the first image there is roughly 37 stores that have been approved to have a WIC license. I decided to zoom in on a neighborhood that I grew up which is known as the Roseville section to see how many stores that I used to live by accepted WIC checks. I have not visited all of the stores in the area and I have not been there in that neighborhood in a while, but from what I do remember most of the stores carried junk food, hot and cold deli sandwiches, and maybe had a section for fruit. The stores labelled Supermarkets did not always have reliable quality meat. I can remember as a child a few occasions my mom came home with meat from the Bravo Supermarket or Food Depot that just smelled rancid. She resorted to going to the Shop Rite in East Orange since the quality of food was better regulated. I can use this source to show how though WIC licenses are given to local stores the inventory of the stores are questionable to how healthy and beneficial they are.
Title: Neighborhood Disparities Concerning Healthy Foods
This journal is not necessarily based on events that occur in Newark, Nj, but it can be applied to it. This source discusses how the access to fast food and convenience stores are more easily accessible in low income minority neighborhoods than Supermarkets, which can cause unhealthy eating habits. This source can be useful because it shows that there are more to food deserts than just the lack of access to healthy foods but also that minority communities are unfairly overly exposed to fast food options then a more affluent neighborhood.
Title: Social Inequality Causes Food Deserts
This article in a way updates the one that I listed above because it focuses on education and knowledge that influence eating habits and overall physical health. This can help me with my paper because it enforces the idea that an entire community of people have been so accustomed to eating poorly that even when given healthy food options they still deviate to foods with high saturated fats and sugar. This source could be used to theorize a solution to broaden the palette of the community as a whole.
Newark has been a city of rebranding itself as a “Food Oasis” since it has brought businesses like Shop Rite and Whole Foods to the city. These two images show a snippet of what consumers are shopping for in both locations. Newark may look like an oasis on paper, but for citizens that live here or work in the city shows how financially inclusive Whole Foods is and the promotion of an unhealthy diet at ShopRite.
These two pictures above were captured by myself on Friday April 5, 2018 and I chose that date specifically because that is first of the month. Women who qualify for a WIC license are given the money to grocery shop for the month so there are usually a lot of people at supermarkets in the city of Newark and it is also payday for others that are not in the WIC program. Therefore, I captured the image on the Left at Shoprite to show what consumers are usually buying there and the image on the right is from Whole Foods to show the exact same thing. Ideally it is to enlighten city officials that even though these businesses chose to reside in Newark it may not be benefiting the community as much as it is benefiting the city’s image.
Now let’s analyze the people that are at each of these two locations. The image on the left shows an African American man waiting to be rung up in the cashier line wearing more casual clothing showing he may not work in an office setting The cart in front of the man appears to have a baby in the front turning around most likely looking at her mother or relative based on the bun that can be seen behind the man in the forefront. The women behind the register is also African American as well as the women at the end who is most likely the bagger. One can assume that the neighborhood is mostly an African American neighborhood which would be correct. The people that tend to shop at ShopRite are working class people who have families that live in the city of Newark since the demographic of the city is mostly black.
To the right the image at Whole Foods shows a different demographic of people. The people in this image that are standing in line are wearing dress shoes are wearing a shirt and a shirt and tie. Which can be assumed that they work at the businesses nearby the downtown area. The cashier behind the counter happens to also be black which shows that the surrounding neighborhood is still mostly African American. These images show that there are two different people that are shopping at these locations. Business people tend to gravitate towards Whole Foods while the working class residents of the city who have children are choosing to shop at Shoprite.
Another aspect of the image that should be analyzed is what consumers are choosing to buy. At ShopRite consumers are choosing to buy more products as opposed to Whole Foods. If we look at the cart for the man in at ShopRite he has chosen to buy frozen dinners, a jug of what looks like it might be Sweet Tea, cookies, grape jelly, bananas, oatmeal, bread, and cheese. Most of the things in his cart do not contain any nutritional value besides the bananas everything else is processed, full of salt and sugar, and full of preservatives. This shows that even though Shoprite offers more financially accessible products consumers are still choosing to eat poorly. In Whole Foods consumers are not using Whole Foods for their grocery shopping needs, but to pick up lunch. Everyone in line is holding a box that contains the food from the pre-prepared table that they made a lunch out of. So even though consumers are buying more at ShopRite they aren’t buying nutritional food and at Whole Foods business men and women come there for lunch, but not necessarily to do grocery shopping.
The last point I would like to make is what is on display for last minute purchase. At Shoprite the left side of the picture there is a fridge full of soda and energy drink that do not offer any nutritional value and it does not quench your thirst if you are thirsty. At Whole foods to the left of the picture there is a plant protein smoothie mix made of coconuts and almonds that are being displayed as a last minute purchase. Almonds are a great source for protein and is it a much healthier alternative to soda but it is marketed at $16.99 for smoothie mix. which only further proves that consumers that are not as financially secure will be more likely not to buy a protein smoothie and that Whole Foods is not economical for most people. Judging by how full it is the business people are not jumping to buy it either at that price.
Newark may be a food oasis on paper, but it is not financially inclusive across the wide incomes at Whole Foods and promotes an unhealthy diet at ShopRite for the people that live and work in the city. The city is in need of a source that provides healthy food for an economical price, but these two options that are boasted about lack one or the other. Whole Foods offers organic produce without preservatives but are very expensive while ShopRite is more cost effective but does not provide health conscious offers like Whole Foods does. Whole Foods is not even WIC certified since you cannot buy organic produce using the WIC card still barring many residents from the benefit of having a Whole Foods in their city. So even though these businesses are great for the city’s image it is not improving the health of the residents in the city.
This is the link to my Story map that depicts the places that my mom used to shop at growing up and weighing the pros and cons based on affordability, inventory, and distance.
I conducted an Interview with my mom, Wanda Jackson, to explore what food shopping was like for her growing up in the 60’s with her mom and grandmother in Newark, NJ then as an adult with children of her own in the same city. We will also hear her opinion about the current food status within the city of Newark today.