They call them food deserts. Many of Buffalo’s east side residents are more than a mile away from a supermarket. This can often lead to poor eating habits.
A community coalition aims to make eating healthy easier for residents. Coolers of fresh food are being placed in two stores on Buffalo’s northeast side.
Mobile Safety-Net Team Supervisor Jeffrey Pirrone said the Healthy Corner Store Initiative is working to create convenient access to healthier foods.
“A lot of residents don’t have reliable transportation or they just don’t have time because they are juggling two jobs and a family,” Pirrone told WBFO. “So they don’t have time to get to the store or even the time to prepare healthy foods. It makes microwave meals and pre-packaged foods much easier for them to fit into their lifestyle, but it also impacts their health and the health of their family.”
Buffalo is one of three U.S. cities with a poverty rate higher than 30 percent. Residents who live below the poverty line have higher rates of chronic disease. Pirrone believes the initiative will encourage more food retailers to work with local vendors.
“When you get food that comes directly from a farm or a greenhouse within a 30 mile radius, it’s going to be fresher and fresher food is always healthier and tastes so much better. But then you are also supporting local businesses and anytime that you can get a chance to support local businesses and organizations, it’s really a benefit to the whole community and the economy of the region.”
The new effort was launched Friday at Food Plus Market at 414 East Amherst St. Customers will sample food and be given tips on food prep periodically over the next couple of months.
The second store that is receiving a cooler is the Buff City Exclusive Market at 90 Lisbon Ave.