Statement on FreshDirect and the South Bronx

Sustainable South Bronx applauds the efforts of the South Bronx Unite coalition. The campaign and its organizers have been instrumental in mobilizing South Bronx residents and facilitating the re-envisioning of a working waterfront – one that is mutually beneficial for both South Bronx residents and industry.

The South Bronx has a long history of being overburdened with unfavorable land uses that have resulted in challenging health and quality of life issues for community residents. It’s well known that South Bronx residents suffer from overwhelmingly high rates of asthma, diabetes and obesity stemming from pollution-producing industrial facilities and, perhaps most significantly, the truck traffic passing through the South Bronx’s streets en route to the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, the country’s largest food distribution center.

Given the environmental challenges already faced by the South Bronx, it is imperative that when a large company opens a new facility — especially when that company relies on a truck-based system to transport its products — an environmental impact study must take place. As advocates for the South Bronx, we at Sustainable South Bronx find it unacceptable that FreshDirect’s move to the South Bronx has not been subject to an environmental impact study and that the company has refused to conduct such a study. The review that FreshDirect has cited in support of its argument that environmental impact will be minimal dates from 1993 and pertains to a completely different project. In any community, this would be an unacceptable stand, but even more so in the South Bronx.

In addition to the issues related to the environmental impact study, Sustainable South Bronx – whose largest program promotes the training of Bronx residents for employment by green businesses – particularly supports South Bronx Unite’s advocacy to ensure that FreshDirect provides living wage jobs to Bronxites. The South Bronx very much needs green businesses that will hire locally and it is our hope that FreshDirect will solidify its commitment to ensuring that the company’s future workforce will include many residents of the borough.