Press Release on Empire State Development Proposed Subsidies to FreshDirect

Over 100 Residents, Clergy, Labor Leaders and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx
Relocation Would Have Devastating Environmental and Health Impacts on Local Community
More than 100 residents, clergy, labor leaders and health professionals will testify on Monday evening in opposition to a proposed $10 million subsidy package to FreshDirect from the Empire State Development Corporation.  In total, FreshDirect is
seeking over $140 million in taxpayer subsidies for a highly controversial project that would subject South Bronx residents to the pollution, noise, and traffic of over a thousand additional diesel truck trips every day. The project would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a neighborhood where
one in four children already has asthma. The State subsidies would carry no mandate to create jobs. FreshDirect has thus far avoided local living wage requirements and posted openings that pay as little as $8.00 per hour.  Monday’s hearing in the South Bronx is the
first local public hearing on the proposed subsidy package in the three years the community has been fighting against the deal, with litigation against the project ongoing.  Last December, Fresh
Direct was forced to withdraw a $3.5 million Empowerment Zone (EZ) subsidy application when it became clear that the EZ Board of Directors , under the leadership of local Congressman Jose E. Serrano, would reject it.  In 2013, Mayor de Blasio campaigned heavily against the City subsidy while running for office but has not yet taken a decisive move since entering office.
“Today, the South Bronx community is proud to stand arm-in-arm
with labor unions, faith leaders and medical professionals in opposition to the allocation of taxpayer money to subsidize FreshDirect and the 1,000 diesel trucks it would bring through our community every day.  The fact that FreshDirect and the City have
attempted to push through this proposal by relying on a 21 year old
environmental impact study is a particular slap in the face when 1 in 4 of our children has asthma.  We were particularly
disappointed to learn that a few State representatives who don’t even represent our district are advocating for this diesel project to be cited in our community.  We remain confident that this
community will prevail and that we will stop FreshDirect.” –Mychal Johnson, Co-founder, South Bronx Unite; Board of Directors, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
“More than 15 primary care physicians and nurses working and
living locally have submitted testimony against the subsidies for FreshDirect.  As a resident, physician and parent of a child with specials needs, I have seen firsthand the well-documented harms
diesel truck emissions have on vulnerable communities and individuals, such as children and the elderly.  This subsidy
package would allow FreshDirect to bring upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips through my neighborhood every day and expose us to heightened levels of pollutants linked to cognitive and mental delays in our children as well as respiratory and cardiovascular disease.”
–Dr. Melissa Barber, Resident
“The health of our children and future generation is far
more important than anything else FreshDirect can offer.  There is no trade-off.  We as faith leaders have stood, and will continue to stand together with South Bronx Unite until the powers that be fully understand what’s at stake.” –Rev. Que English, Co-founder Bronx
Clergy Roundtable
“In my tradition to be saved is to be socially responsible and
accountable for our actions. Today we stand with the South Bronx community as stewards of the earth God has given us to live in and to raise our children with. I have to denounce any action on the part of FreshDirect that will poison the only air our children have to breathe.” Minister Danny Diaz, Executive Board Member of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Justice Fellow
Latino Pastoral Action Fellow, Micah Justice Fellow New York Theological Seminary
“FreshDirect is bringing pollution and poverty to the South Bronx,
two things we have plenty of already. The company has rejected calls to pay a living wage and is not required to create a single job to get this massive subsidy. We know how to create strong industries that breed prosperity, and this isn’t it. Community members are standing up and the Teamsters are standing with them.” – Dan Kane, President, Teamsters Local 202
“FreshDirect has requested over $140 million in subsidies while
their workers, many earning just $8.25 per hour, make wages that guarantee they will either have to find additional jobs to survive or require them to get additional subsidies for housing and food.” – Lily Kesselman Dunn, Director, South Bronx Farmers Market
“The FreshDirect relocation would significantly harm the health and quality of life of Mott Haven and Port Morris residents.
It is vehemently opposed by residents and community-based organizations in these neighborhoods and is unsupported by the elected officials that represent them. For these reasons, Empire State Development should reject FreshDirect’s subsidy application.” –Gavin Kearney, Director, Environmental Justice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

“FreshDirect is bad for the South Bronx on many counts: the
environment, social justice, transportation and food sovereignty. It leaves food on the doorsteps of the privileged and nothing but noise and fumes for those who lack access to healthy food.” –Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Director, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *