November 24, 2022

$365,535 in federal funding for Buffalo Food Justice Project, led by Massachusetts Avenue Project and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York

Congressman Brian Higgins addresses the audience.

Tue October 11, 2022 3:45 p.m.

Grant supports food equity and access in underserved communities in Buffalo

Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $365,535 for the Massachusetts Avenue project and Grassroots Gardens in Western New York. Funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture and is awarded through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Community Food Projects Grant Program. He will support the Buffalo Food Justice Project, which aims to ensure food equity and access in underserved communities.

“Access to fresh, healthy food is a necessity, not a luxury,” Higgins said. “Food insecurity has a significant impact on underserved youth, and far too many families in Western New York face this challenge. Funding from the United States Department of Agriculture will expand access to healthy, home-grown food and address equity issues in our local food system. Through strong partnerships between the Massachusetts Avenue Project, Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, and the community, we are once again making critical investments in basic needs that will contribute to a brighter future for families in Western New York. .

Grassroots Gardens WNY Executive Director Jeanette Koncikowski said, “Fifty percent of the gardens growing in our system are now on the east side of Buffalo. This funding will help us invest more resources in the gardens, including hiring seasonal staff. It will also help us continue our work in partnership with MAP on education and youth empowerment. Additionally, it will support community leaders who co-create with us policy recommendations on the reuse of vacant land to share with our municipal partners. »

Higgins’ team said, “This year, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is investing $4.7 million in community food projects across the United States. The goals of these projects are to meet the food needs of low-income communities through food distribution, community outreach to increase participation in federally assisted nutrition programs, and to provide services that improve access to food. The program also aims to increase the self-reliance of communities to meet their own food needs and to promote holistic responses to problems of access to local food, agriculture and nutrition. Overall, it is designed to meet the unique food and agricultural needs of communities and neighborhoods.

“The Massachusetts Avenue Project and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York will co-lead the Buffalo Food Justice Project. Working alongside and building leadership among low-income youth, new Americans, entrepreneurs, community gardeners and local farmers, the project will increase the food self-sufficiency of Buffalo residents and strive to meet the food needs and local nutritional resources of low-income communities, with particular attention to increasing resources for Black and Indigenous Peoples of Color and other underserved communities.

“Focusing on creating greater equity in the local food system, the Buffalo Food Justice Project will create public and private connections to improve food production capacity in Buffalo’s community gardens, build food businesses and community-led and expand the urban agriculture workforce for low-income youth. It will also expand access to fresh and healthy food and create new opportunities for urban and regional producers by expanding mobile markets. Ultimately, the project will contribute to the adoption of municipal policies that secure land and offer better support to urban producers. »

The Massachusetts Avenue Project and Grassroots Gardens Buffalo Food Justice Project is one of 22 projects to receive funding from the Community Food Projects Grant program.

Established in 1992 by residents of the West Side neighborhood of Buffalo, the Massachusetts Avenue Project works to foster the growth of a diverse, accessible and equitable food system, promote economic opportunity and empower youth.

Basic Gardens of Western New York is a group of community gardeners and activists whose mission is to share knowledge, power, and resources to grow healthy food, heal systemic harm, and strengthen neighborhood connections through community gardens. It co-cultivates more than 1 million square feet of urban green space, with more than 100 community gardens in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.