African Heritage Food Co-op renews push for investment
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side is calling attention to food insecurity throughout the city.
Residents of the Fruit Belt neighborhood are calling for public and private investment into a historic building that owners of the African Heritage Food Co-op want to turn into a brick and mortar co-op.
“We need a space where we can begin to invest in our people,” said Dennice Barr, a resident of the neighborhood. “Not just in the stores and not just in the development, you know all of that. We need investment in our community that has to do with our people.”
The building at 283 Carlton St. is boarded up and needs serious work inside, but co-op co-founder Alex Wright said the foundation is there and the historic building is worth restoring, to the tune of $3 million that will have an impact for generations.
“What’s good about this is, this is an investment in self-sufficiency,” said Wright. “This isn’t something that we’re going to have to come and pass the hat every year. If we do one big investment right, this will feed itself. And this will be an economic engine in this community for the next hundred years.”
The co-op had to put renovation plans on the back burner during the pandemic. Now that food insecurity is top of mind, residents are renewing the push to get a permanent solution put into place.