Food Access in WNY Roundtable Discussion

“Food, like water, is a basic necessity and a human right.”
Think for a couple of minutes about the last few meals that you’ve eaten. Have you cooked for yourself and your family? If so, what sort of food did you prepare? Or if you have gone out to a restaurant, where did you go and what did you eat? Have you visited a local market? If so, was it a corner store or a supermarket? Were you on a budget, or was money no obstacle? Was there fresh produce? 
I am sure that you are well aware that people facing poverty have limited access to healthy food options. That could be partially because of tight budgets, lack of transportation, poor nutritional awareness, time constraints, etc. According to the Junior League of Buffalo, “Female heads of households, living in poverty, are the face of poverty in Western New York (WNY).  Two-thirds of families living in poverty in WNY are headed by a single female.  Many of these women and their families face health, education and self-esteem obstacles.”
On February 29, a discussion will take place that aims to tackle some of the problems that our community has been facing when it comes to ‘food access’? What can we be doing right here in Greater Buffalo to combat what has become a national epidemic? It is clear that many current health issues, including obesity, stem from poor eating habits. In order to affect change in the future, we must now begin to pose and answer the gnawing questions that in some way or another impact each and every one of us as members of an at-risk modern day society.
Food Access in WNY Roundtable Discussion
Free Admission – Open to the Public
Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: University of Buffalo South Campus, 100 Allen Hall
Topics Include:
·        Awareness of food system issues and access
·        Relationship to female heads of households,  communities and their economic health
·        Define eating local; leading a healthy lifestyle
·        Importance of community empowerment and policies
·        Engagement opportunities for the community
·        Resources in WNY community for those impacted by the issue
Contributing Panelists include:
Diane Picard, Executive Director, Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP)
Jessie Gouck, Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Buffalo
Susannah Barton, Executive Director, Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo
The Junior League of Buffalo is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.  Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to helping people create and sustain community gardens on vacant land in the City of Buffalo.  The organization was started in 1992 by J. Milton Zeckhauser, a life-long Buffalo resident and businessman who recognized the value community gardens would bring to Buffalo’s neighborhoods.  Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo supports nearly 70 community gardens on over 100 previously vacant lots in the City of Buffalo by providing community gardeners with access to land, liability insurance, plant and material support, and educational and training opportunities.  These community gardens beautify and strengthen neighborhoods, enable the productive reuse of vacant properties and improve the overall quality of life for residents. 
Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) whose primary goal is to implement healthy eating and active living policy- and environmental-change initiatives that can support healthier communities for children and families. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities places special emphasis on reaching children who are at highest risk for obesity on the basis of race/ethnicity, income and/or geographic location. Buffalo is one of only 50 communities across the country selected to receive this highly competitive award from RWJF.
The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) nurtures the growth of a diverse and equitable community food system to promote local economic opportunities, access to affordable and nutritious food, and social-change education.  Established in 2003, in response to growing issues of urban vacancy, youth unemployment and food insecurity; MAP, founded Growing Green, an urban agriculture program that engages low-income youth in growing, distributing and marketing healthy food in Buffalo’s food deserts and involving young people in community education, organizing and policy change.  Since 2003 MAP has directly employed and trained over 375 youth and impacted over 15,000 individuals through program activities. Food is a great connector and an effective vehicle for promoting social and economic equity.  Among MAP’s greatest accomplishments is the commitment to involving youth where they live, with their individual talents, in multiple strategies towards solving issues around food access that impact them and their families in a very direct way.
*The lead image, taken in South L.A., is used around the world to demonstrate how you can have lots of options, and still be in a food desert. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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