5 Questions — Fredric Byarm: Invincible City

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

CAMDEN – Fredric Byarm saw the injustices of food insecurity clearly because he worked in the industry.

As a chef in some of the top fine dining locations along the Jersey Shore, Byarm worked with some of the finest and healthiest food products available but always saw how those same products and ingredients were out of reach for the people who needed them the most. Now the executive director of Invincible City, on an online food outlet, Byarm has made it his mission to turn those dynamics around.

Invincible City is an online grocery market with no minimum purchases, accepts SNAP and WIC payments and customers can set up their own delivery location, date and time. The food comes from local farms, which are picked, cooked and packaged at the Invincible City facility in Camden.

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The Fredric Byarm File

Name: Fredric Byarm

Name of Business: Invincible City

Years in business: 6 years

Specialize in: Online service that offers fresh, healthy foods

Contact info: fb@invinciblecityfarms.com, 856-238-9002, invinciblecity.org

Front Runner New Jjersey met Byarm at the Black Business Expo held at First Nazarene Baptist Church in Camden on Saturday, Feb. 19.

1. FRNJ: What is Invincible City?

Fredric Byarm: Invincible City is a company focused on increasing access to healthy and fresh food items and food choices within underserved communities like Camden. For people who struggled to have access to healthy food options, we want to make those options available to them and make it available at a convenient price point.

2. FRNJ: What led you to this as a business?

Fredric Byarm: I was a chef at some high-end fine dining places and I had a couple of my own restaurants at the Jersey Shore. It was there I realized that the best ingredients available were never provided to the people who needed them the most, like those suffering from diabetes and different heart conditions. They need quality ingredients. Those ingredients weren’t being sent to them or weren’t made available to them, or it was just too expensive or too awkward to get them. My grandparents were also farmers outside of Philadelphia, and I was working with farmers in my restaurant business. I’ve never met a farmer who didn’t need more clients or more customers. I knew a lot of people didn’t have access to their products. We decided to be that go-between to make it more cost-effective and efficient to get quality products into neighborhoods that need it the most.

3. FRNJ: When did the light bulb go off in your head that told you that you could be the one making that connection for these communities?

Fredric Byarm: To be completely honest, I just had to get over myself. I had to stop chasing the New York Times, and the next big article about the next hot new chef. We used to eat out of the corner stores all the time and the only things good there was candy. We’ve been at this for about six years trying to find a solution to what they call food insecurity or what some people call food deserts. What’s the solution? I believe that how the present food economy works is kind of parental and abusive. So you got a lot of organizations that will pass out free food. But tomorrow, I need more food. So really all you’re doing is making me come back to you over and over again. So I don’t want to exchange my dignity for something to eat. I want to retain my dignity and feed my family.

4. FRNJ: How do you make that happen?

Fredric Byarm: We’ll make that happen as a local business, providing that service you need. You pay me for that service. We’ve got a holistic positive experience between the two. And that’s what I believe the real answer is. We don’t want knights in white hats running in to save us from ourselves. We want to take care of ourselves and our families by providing healthy things for them.

5. FRNJ: Anything else you would like to add?

Fredric Byarm: I’ve said this to people repeatedly over the last few years, is we are the answer that we are looking for to address our issues. We’re really not looking for somebody else to come in and save our day.

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