Response to COVID-19
COVID19 is exacerbating food inequities in Buffalo
The COVID 19 crisis is an unprecedented public health AND and an equity challenge for our Buffalo community, the country and the globe. Though everyone will be impacted, some will be at greater risk, and some will have a harder time recovering from the health and non-health impacts of the crisis. Elders and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the health impacts of the virus. Elders cannot as readily acquire food to meet their needs. People who work within the food service sector of our food system, and are not paid sick leave, cannot afford to miss work. Families with children who depend on school lunches are wondering what tomorrow holds. People with no cars cannot easily drive from place to place to stockpile foods. People with no/few grocery stores in their neighborhoods are at a significant disadvantage, especially when restrictions on mobility are necessary for one’s own health or the health of one’s community. COVID threatens food insecurity for those that are already vulnerable in our food system.
Coordinated Response by A Community Coalition
The city of Buffalo and surrounding region is home to individuals and organizations who are coming forward in a time of crisis in a coordinated fashion. Such a coalition can respond to the growing/heightened food insecurity in the city and surrounding region more effectively than any single organization.
Our region’s urban farmers, community gardening organizations, and food distribution organizations are coalescing to respond to the COVID-19 situation. Our coalition has the following aims:
- Increase production of food within the city and surrounding region through our existing farms, community gardens, and backyard/front yard gardens.
- Create job/employment opportunities in food production/farming while tackling food insecurity.
- Ensure timely and affordable distribution of foods to residents through a distribution system.
The Seeding Resilience coalition met weekly, and then monthly, to respond to COVID. Recently, the leadership of Seeding Resilience has opted to pause the meetings. Instead, the leadership is focusing its effort on supporting the work of the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a network of people of color focused on building a more just food system. If you would like to support BFEN, please go to Food for the Spirit website at https://foodforthespirit.org/. Food for the Spirit convenes BFEN on a regular basis.
What makes our Buffalo region vulnerable to food inequity in a crisis?
The existing inequities in our food system make particular people and neighborhoods especially vulnerable to the COVID crisis and its aftermath.
- In the Buffalo Niagara region, nearly 56,000 households, or 12 percent of all households, lack access to a supermarket because they live beyond the average walking distance for shopping, which is 0.4 miles and lack access to a personal vehicle. In conditions of quarantine these individuals cannot readily purchase food for themselves or their families.
- Predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods in Erie County are red-lined by supermarkets and grocers stores, making potential quarantine or mobility restrictions even more challenging for families. Single-mother households bear a disproportionate share of poverty in Erie County, and are likely to be worse off during/after COVID aftermath.
- About 36,000 people depended on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2011 (this is likely to go up as federal government is pushing for new regulations). Individuals who rely on SNAP are limited by the locations where they can shop for food (panic buying by the rest of the community makes shopping for food difficult for individuals on limited budgets).
- About 35,000 people depended on food assistance from the Western New York Food Bank (in 2011). These individuals’ access to food assistance is threatened if the Food Bank runs out of supply of food.
- Meals on Wheels serves about 3,600 clients throughout Erie County (in 2014), many of whom are the elderly.
- There were about 44,000 employees in the food service sector in the Erie-Niagara counties (in 2014). Many of them are/will be hard hit by the economic impact of the COVID crisis.
Food System Resources for the Buffalo Community
A number of food systems-related organizations, businesses, and coalitions in Buffalo are available in Buffalo. We have made a single directory below for Buffalonians to quickly find what they are looking for in this time of crisis. This webpage is not intended to replicate services, but to share and make more accessible the excellent work being done by partners.
If your organization can provide support, please reach out to us so we can add you to the resource list at email@example.com. This page is a work in progress and continually being updated.
- African Heritage Food Cooperative
- Buffalo Hospitality Coalition
- Buffalo News List of Restaurants that Offer Takeout
- Buffalo Public Schools with Food Delivery/Pick-Up Sites During COVID
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Information for Corona Virus Prevention and Controls for Farms
- Dining at a Distance information about restaurants that offer takeout
- Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition
- Farmer Assistance Programs
- Farmers Pirates Cooperative, coalition of urban farmers
- Feed Buffalo, organic, halal food pantry
- Five Loaves Farm, urban farm
- FeedMore WNY, provides emergency food assistance
- Food for the Spirit
- Freedom Gardens, a program concieved by Ms. Gail Wells, to support Black, indigenous, and growers of color to reclaim food sovereignty
- Fresh Fix
- Grassroots Gardens of Western New York
- Massachusetts Avenue Project
- NY Farm Net
- Produce Peddlers, aggregating produce from local farmers for purchase
- The Tool Library
- UB Student Food Support, a virtual food pantry service for UB students
- Urban Fruits and Veggies/Go Green Buffalo
- Wegmans Grocery Stores
- Western New York Feeds the Frontlines, donate meals from local restaurants directly to frontline health and medical workers
Where can I find food in Buffalo, NY?
View this map to see food distribution and pick-up points across Buffalo. Many of these locations offer free food. We are updating the map live time. If you know of a food resource that should be on the map, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- East Side COVID-19 Testing at Urban Family Practice
- Testing available for GBUACO/Urban Family Practice patients with symptoms, patients within GBUACO network, and patients without a primary care physician
- Testing provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm. Call first for evaluation at 716-604-0504. Located at 1315 Jefferson Ave, 14208.
- NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline
Who is behind this page and Seeding Resilience
This web page is the work of the Seeding Resilience coalition in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This coalition is comprised of many partners, including food banks, local growers, food distributors and other engaged individuals and organizations, including the UB Food Lab. Other partners include:
Radical Rain Green Infrastructure Landscaping, Urban Fruits & Veggies LLC, Partnership for the Public Good, University of Buffalo, The Tool Library, PUSH Development Committee, Cornell Cooperative Extension – Harvest NY, Providence Farm Collective, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Massachusetts Avenue Project, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, Community Action Organization of WNY, HEAL Alliance, Food for the Spirit, Buffalo Mutual Aid Network, Pelion Garden/Outdoor Classroom, Cornell Vegetable Program, University at Buffalo School of Public Health, CoNect, WNY Peace Center, Fruit Belt Advisory Council, CEJ, Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition, Farmer Pirates Cooperative, Feed Buffalo, Victory Sports Global Outreach, Grassroots Gardens of WNY, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wilson Street Urban Farm, Mariner Art Co., Greater Buffalo Urban Growers, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, City of Buffalo, Erie County Department of Housing, Somali Bantu Community Farm, Ujima Company Inc., Say Yes Buffalo, 5 Loaves Farm, Groundwork Market Garden, Journey’s End Refugee Services.