Food networking has been a major concern during the COVID-19 outbreak. Food Buffalo, a pantry that offers healthy options in communities with high populations of low-income Muslim refugees and African Americans, has been collaborating with several other food organizations to ensure those in need have enough to eat.
Feed Buffalo Founder Drea D’Nur said groups providing access to Buffalo’s food network include the Buffalo Growers Group and Buffalo Mutual Aid, with the help of bike courier groups.
The free food pantry has been operating for less than a year. Since opening their pantry last May, they have built six smaller pantries throughout the city.
D’Nur said she has been hearing deep gratitude wherever she has gone.
“I've been hearing thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said. “I've been hearing, ‘Hey, when I get back on my feet, I'm gonna give you some money.’ I'm getting a lot of people who are unemployed. So they're just super grateful right now because they don't know when they're going to be able to go shopping. One woman gave us like eight gift cards for Lexington Co-op. So a couple of the bags that we packed with them is to also give those gift cards away too. So it's really just a blessing to know that we're helping people.”
D’Nur said their community partnerships have increased greatly over the past month.
“I'm getting calls from people that have never gotten calls from and I'm grateful,” D’Nur said. “And then I'm getting more calls from people that I knew that I was working with. And it makes me happy. Do I think that these partnerships will exist and remain strong beyond this pandemic? I'm going to say yes, and that's because I'm going to do the work to make sure that we stay connected.”
COVID-19 has put everyone in uncharted territory. D’Nur has thought a lot about what the current crisis has revealed.
“I've been talking about Feed Buffalo and building healthy communities for over a year now very consistently. And I think I get support, because I'm an artist, but I think that I'm getting more support now because of the crisis. And I'm grateful for it, but it kind of makes me a little sad, because I wonder how many people will continue to take care of themselves once this coven is gone,” she said. “We're not just feeding people healthy food, but we're feeding the mind, body and the soul. And in order to have a healthy community, we have to be giving people healthy food. We got to make sure they have clothing and shelter and we have to be talking to each other in order to talk to each other.”
Feed Buffalo has joined a larger group of Western New York food solicitors and producers that started meeting a few weeks ago called Seeding Resilience. Through that group, D’Nur sees potential for long term solutions to improving efficiency around the area’s general food system.
To learn more about Feed Buffalo, visit their website here