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Buffalo community rallies to support access to fresh food in wake of supermarket shooting

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(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — In the wake of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, organizations are rallying to support the local community and ensure residents have access to affordable and fresh food.

Ten people were killed and three others were injured in the shooting, which took place Saturday afternoon at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in the predominantly Black Kingsley neighborhood. All of the victims who died in the attack were Black, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has described the shooting as an “absolute racist hate crime.”

Tops officials said in a statement on Twitter Sunday that the store location where the shooting took place would be closed until further notice.

The closure means the surrounding East Side community is now a food desert, as the supermarket served as the lone grocery store within walking distance for many residents.

Both the grocery store chain and local and state officials, as well as a number of other groups and businesses, have since stepped in to ensure that the community is not left without access to fresh food.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday announced a partnership with Uber and Lyft to provide residents free rides to and from nearby grocery stores.

“We are in touch with Uber and Lyft and they have offered to take people from these zip codes if they need to go to a grocery store in another area, because a lot of people in this neighborhood, they walk to the grocery store, they don’t have transportation,” she said.

Riders in the designated zip codes can receive a ride to and from two local grocery stores, Tops Friendly Markets and Price Rite.

“Lyft riders can use the code ‘BuffaloLyftUp’ for up to $25 in the Lyft app. Uber riders can use the code ‘SHOPBUF’ in the Uber app for up to $20 off a ride, with a maximum of eight rides per customer,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The Buffalo Community Fridge network, a local mutual aid organization that helps address food security and stocks community refrigerators with fresh produce and prepared meals, also saw a massive influx of donations and volunteers over the weekend and has stepped in to assist residents.

After a call for support following the shooting, one of the group’s community fridge sites shared on social media that it received multiple donations. The group on Sunday stated that while it is no longer accepting monetary donations, it will still accept food donations for its various locations, to ensure fridges are stocked with plenty of groceries for those in need.

FeedMore WNY has partnered with the Resource Council of WNY to distribute food items. Slow Roll Buffalo, a group that connects community members through guided bike rides, also stated it would be helping to distribute items during its Monday night community ride.

In New York State, 10.5% of people struggle with food insecurity, according to Hunger Solutions New York. The coronavirus pandemic also created a large spike in food insecurity across the country.

In Buffalo, according to FeedMore WNY, which is backed by Feeding America, more than 14% of residents do not have access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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