BUFFALO, N.Y. — While the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue has reopened, issues persist for some area residents, from a lack of affordable options at the market to constant reminders of the May 14 tragedy, where 10 people were shot and killed. The nonprofit Field & Fork Network has partnered with East Buffalo establishments to implement their Double Up Food Bucks program, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match on all SNAP eligible purchases, to highlight other places offering affordable, healthy options in the area.
“We really were talking with all of our emergency food assistance partners to really understand what was happening in the community, really trying to figure out what was the best way for us to respond and to help the community,” said Field & Fork Network co-founder and Executive Director Lisa French.
The program is helpful both to the wallets of community members and to businesses looking to bring the city more options.
“It certainly helps those on fixed budgets and limited food budgets to stretch their food dollars further, buying healthy, fresh foods, giving them more options in the community,” French said. “But the other goal of the program has always been to support local business.”
The African Heritage Food Co-op located in the Broadway Market is one of five locations participating in the program. The Tops tragedy helped reveal how business owners like the co-op’s founder and General Manager Alexander J. Wright have been active in serving the community before and after May 14.
“It shined light on the issue of food apartheid in Buffalo,” Wright said. “And it also showed how many organizations and businesses are already in the space who have been trying to work toward fixing this issue.”
The program, combined with the co-op’s affordable prices, brings fresh and healthy options to shoppers without causing them to break the bank or travel outside of their community.
“The downside is, things that are good for you are always pricier,” Wright said. “I don’t know why that is, but it is that way. So, with the Double Up Food Bucks program, it’s going to allow people to get twice as much bang for their dollar.”
The program is also a way for the businesses to further give back to those who help build places for and by the community through their patronage.
“We’re thankful for all of the community support we’ve received here that allows us to do the work that we do, and we just want to thank the Buffalo, Western New York community wholeheartedly,” Wright said. “We love you, we appreciate you guys, and we’re looking to serve you for a long time to come.”
Other businesses participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program include the Clinton Bailey Farmer’s Market, FeedMore WNY Fresh Markets, Urban Fruits and Veggies mobile markets and The Golden Corner.