On Saturday, April 25, staff, and volunteers from both organizations distributed survey cards to approximately 500 residences throughout the Fruit Belt Neighborhood – the first community to be assisted by the grassroots effort. If in need, residents place a call to be put on the home-delivery distribution list. While respondents will receive protective masks and a bin of fresh produce, they will also be able to select dairy, bean, starch, and poultry products. On Saturday, May 2, organizers will convene to assemble the packages and carry out distribution. As an added support, a separate package of home disinfectant products will be provided.
“I’m inspired by the tenacity and resilience of Buffalo,” said Franchelle Parker, Executive Director of Open Buffalo. “Organizations and neighborhoods are collaborating and stepping up to the challenge of beating COVID-19. We intend to make sure residents know about existing services and to close the communication gap between government, organizations, and residents.” Reflecting on these three elements, she added, “This moment also teaches us how important public funding and responsive government leadership are. Therefore, we will remind residents during our canvassing and distribution to exercise their power by filling out the 2020 Census and voting by mail in the upcoming election.”
The Fruit Belt Neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city, with more than 60% of its small population below the poverty line. Predominately African American, it is a demographic that continues to experience significant inequities, particularly when it comes to health and food security – a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
“FB Community Land Trust recognizes the multifaceted nature of health and has adjusted to meet the needs of our community during these difficult times,” said India Walton, Executive Director of FBCLT, adding that “we have been heartened by the outpouring of support and reminded that the need for safe affordable housing, healthy food, and concerned neighbors existed before and will inevitably persist after this crisis. Now more than ever we must work diligently to create healthy thriving neighborhoods in our community.”
While the Fruit Belt is the first distribution point, Open Buffalo plans to replicate the format to assist other struggling neighborhoods such as Broadway-Filmore.
Open Buffalo is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice. It does so through skill building, network-connecting, and activating leadership opportunities. Its goal is for all communities in Western New York to thrive free from discrimination and poverty.