This is how you help the community!
Black leaders in east Buffalo, N.Y. are still tackling food insecurity six months after the mass shooting at a local Tops.
A 2018 report done by a Buffalo-based think tank, Partnership for the Public Good, stated Black Buffalo residents are six times more likely to live in an area without a grocery store compared to white residents. Local organizations such as the African Heritage Food Co-op, the Buffalo Black Billion, and water purification company Neu Water & Associates are banding together to push back on these statistics by creating a self-sufficient community.
Alex Wright, who is the founder of the African Heritage Food Co-op, plans to add another supermarket to provide residents with fresh and healthy food items. When asked about his plans, Wright stated, “It’s about gainful employment. We want our employees to be able to go on vacation. We want them to be able to put their kids in tutoring and to go and get the car they can afford and to put the down payment on the house they would like. We want them to have careers.”
Racial residential segregation is one of the leading causes of a food desert and why an area once known as the Fruit Belt is now being considered a food “apartheid” by Wright. The Buffalo Black Billion, led by local pastor Michael Chapman, who owns 70% of the private property in the Fruit Belt, will help aid in bringing fresh food to the community. The organization will partner with High Street Market project, an open-air farmers market that will offer fresh fruits and vegetables to residents and give the youth an opportunity to garden.
Chapman told NBC News, “Everything we do is to build a footprint for the kingdom of God. We don’t do this for personal gain. We do it for the church and the ministry and the well-being of the community.”
CEO of Neu Water & Associates Rita Hubbard-Robinson has spent the last 15 years studying the link between unhealthy foods and chronic health issues. According to a report done by the University of Buffalo, from 2016 to 2018, Black people in Erie County lost 5,000 more years of potential life than white people. Hubbard-Robinson is reclaiming these years by getting healthy foods into convenience stores and partnering with the Buffalo Freedom Gardens to work with churches and other faith-based groups to grow food in gardens.
In the future, she wants to place a 50,000-square-foot hydroponic garden and farmer’s market that incorporates local urban growers at 537 East Delavan Avenue, called Project Rainfall. The $6 million project has already gained $3.5 million from supporters!
“We have a bunch of people here working together,” said Wright. “The beautiful thing is, this is just like a tornado of strong individuals coming together to make beautiful things happen in Buffalo.”
Photo: African Heritage Food Co-Op