BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Even before May's mass shooting at Tops, many east Buffalo neighborhoods were identified as food deserts, and grassroots efforts to change that, were underway.
One of those programs named in honor of Frances Nash, who was an African American woman from Buffalo, known for promoting healthy living back in the 1940's.
Nash worked in the neighborhoods surrounding the Michigan Street Baptist Church.
Her legacy lives on in the form of a crop share program, providing free produce in neighborhoods where it is hard to find "farm fresh" fruits and vegetables.
Michigan African American Heritage Corridor commission chair, Lillie Wiley-Upshaw told Pheben Kassahun, "It really hearkens back to what Mrs. Nash did many, many years ago. It's part of our legacy and our heritage to do some of the same."
Known as a sacred site in the 1940s, Buffalonian, Mrs. Frances Nash developed a large vegetable garden in the back of her home at, 36 Potter Street. For many years, the organically-grown garden was a supplier to the neighborhood and Nash's friends.
Wiley-Upshaw said, "One of the things she did, among her many accomplishments, was she would have garden right behind her house. She believed in holistic health. She believed in holistic exercise, way before this was the trend. She also believed in giving back and helping within the community."
Thus, proving that her Buffalo strong spirit dates back to prior to the 20th century.
She added, "Because this was something that Mrs. Nash did, a long time ago before we were talking about food deserts and food insecurity, it really is an example of how the community can become self-reliant and how we can do what we've always done: help to take care of one another and what could be more important than helping people make sure that people have the right, good things to eat."
Thanks to an anonymous donation, the Corridor's food basket came to life.
Immediately after, support from other organizations like the Unitarian Universalist Church of East Aurora and Highmark of Western New York, the Michigan Street African American Corridor will be able to hand out free produce at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Broadway.
Anyone with a zip code from the east side of Buffalo can get fresh produce from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., every Tuesday this summer. I
NOTE: Anyone who lives outside of the east side is also welcome.
Wiley-Upshaw said, "We know that on the east side, we have these food deserts where it's so difficult for people to get fresh produce. We know how important that is. We know, we all understand the health outcomes for African Americans because we don't have access to some of these fresh food items, and they're expensive. Part of what we're hoping to do is to address some of that need."