Immigrants And Food: Role Of Ethnic Markets In Transforming And Leveraging Food Systems

The Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) is a non-profit organization working to create opportunities and success through community building, economic development, and education. Since its creation in 2011, WEDI’s West Side Bazaar has provided a hands-on food entrepreneurship program empowering low-income residents, particularly from Buffalo’s culturally rich yet economically distressed West Side community, to start and expand businesses serving inexpensive, culturally relevant cuisines. Along with a small business incubator, the West Side Bazaar is also a startup accelerator, a community meeting space, and a public market. With a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, WEDI is in the process of expanding this operation into a 10,000-square-foot space, featuring a larger shared commercial kitchen kitchen, increased storage, and retail spaces for both service-oriented, product, and apparel companies. This project will empower WEDI’s clients to self-sustainability in business and food. The Food Lab is evaluating the West Side Bazaar’s expansion to help understand the role immigrant food vendors play in Buffalo’s food supply chain, with particular regard to procurement from the city-regional supply chain. Data is collected through semi-structured interviews with vendors in the West Side Bazaar, and results will be shared back with WEDI annually over the course of the project.