BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Our community driven initiative "Believe in Buffalo", which highlights the people and projects that are making Western New York a place of pride, recently spent time exploring the inspiring work of the African Heritage Food Cooperative.
The African Heritage Food Cooperative works to provide fresh food and produce to areas and communities that are considered food deserts.
The AHFC was founded by Alexander Wright in 2016 and currently operates a location on Highland Avenue on Niagara Falls.
"If we are going to fight poverty we need to fight poverty with investment and capital, to do that you need a business", Wright tells 7 News Anchor Jeff Russo.
The African Heritage Food Cooperative, like most grocery co-ops, is community owned and operated.
Currently 250 members have access to fresh food sourced by local farms, but contributions from several foundations are also helping the co-op provide free food to those in need.
Wright tells 7 News that the co-op made close to 500,000 deliveries over the last two years while also providing employment opportunities for members of the community.
The plan is to now bring the AHFC model to the City of Buffalo.
Wright plans to turn an historic building on Carlton Street into a difference maker for the community.
The new location will provide fresh food, employment and ownership opportunities to neighbors in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.
"This place is going to be a full service grocery," says Wright. "You will also be able to dine-in. There will be a second floor community space. Folks can to their block clubs, kids can come and do their homework. We are going to have free internet. We are very excited not only about the food and health benefits, but just the overall community benefits."
To turn the vision into reality the AHFC will kick off a major fund raising effort to raise $3 million.
If you are interested in becoming an owner, or donating to the project you can do so on the African Heritage Food Cooperative webpage.
Wright hopes that the project will break ground in the Spring of 2022 and be open by the Fall of 2023.