Black leaders on Buffalo’s East Side are building markets to address food insecurity


Explore Our Galleries

A man stands in front of the Djingareyber mosque on February 4, 2016 in Timbuktu, central Mali. 
Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu on February 4 celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to UN cultural agency UNESCO.
African Peoples Before Captivity
Shackles from Slave Ship Henrietta Marie
Kidnapped: The Middle Passage
Enslaved family picking cotton
Nearly Three Centuries Of Enslavement
Image of the first black members of Congress
Reconstruction: A Brief Glimpse of Freedom
The Lynching of Laura Nelson_May_1911 200x200
One Hundred Years of Jim Crow
Civil Rights protest in Alabama
I Am Somebody! The Struggle for Justice
Black Lives Matter movement
NOW: Free At Last?
#15-Beitler photo best TF reduced size
Memorial to the Victims of Lynching
hands raised black background
The Freedom-Lovers’ Roll Call Wall
Frozen custard in Milwaukee's Bronzeville
Special Exhibits
Dr. James Cameron
Portraiture of Resistance

Breaking News!

Today's news and culture by Black and other reporters in the Black and mainstream media.

Ways to Support ABHM?

By Claretta Bellamy, NBC News

Plans for a grocery store run by the African Heritage Food Co-Op in Buffalo. (African Heritage Food Co-Op)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The historic Fruit Belt neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, with its Grape, Peach and Lemon streets, was once thriving. Yet now, in place of the orchards that once gave the area its name, there are abandoned homes with broken steps and “no trespassing” signs, overgrown empty plots of land and a troubling lack of grocery stores.

The only supermarket on the East Side is Tops, where a white gunman killed 10 Black residents in May. While the tragedy brought national attention to this neighborhood and its status as a food desert, access to grocery stores with fresh produce remains a problem more than six months later, according to locals like Alex Wright.

Now, organizations like the African Heritage Food Co-op, which Wright founded, as well as groups like Buffalo’s Black Billion and Neu Water & Associates, are building supermarkets, growing gardens and investing in providing fresh fruits and vegetables to residents here. Their larger aim is to create a self-sufficient community.

“It’s about gainful employment,” Wright, 43, said in October of his future grocery store. “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.”

The problems that plague the East Side are rooted in racial segregation and redlining policies implemented decades ago. Black Buffalo residents are six times more likely to live in an area without a grocery store compared to white residents, according to a 2018 report by the Partnership for the Public Good, a Buffalo-based think tank. 


Today, the impacts of redlining — discriminatory practices that prevented Black families from receiving loans to purchase homes — are still visible. Many corporate leaders avoid building supermarkets in Black communities, and there is no significant improvement in Black home ownership rates over the past 30 years, according to the report. Community members fought for years before the Tops on Jefferson Avenue was built in 2003.

Check out the rest of Bellamy’s article.

Meanwhile, Baltimore and Atlanta residents are also struggling to access food.

ABHM’s breaking news archive has more relevant stories.

Comments Are Welcome

Note: We moderate submissions in order to create a space for meaningful dialogue, a space where museum visitors – adults and youth –– can exchange informed, thoughtful, and relevant comments that add value to our exhibits.

Racial slurs, personal attacks, obscenity, profanity, and SHOUTING do not meet the above standard. Such comments are posted in the exhibit Hateful Speech. Commercial promotions, impersonations, and incoherent comments likewise fail to meet our goals, so will not be posted. Submissions longer than 120 words will be shortened.

See our full Comments Policy here.

Leave a Comment