BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Mobile Safety-Net Team ,Oishei Foundation, and University at Buffalo's Regional Institute have been conducting research on the Buffalo-Niagara region’s poverty issue since June of 2019.
The biggest take away: nearly one-third of Buffalo-Niagara residents live in or near poverty.
“We have a major poverty issue here in Buffalo and the Western New York community in general," chief communications officer for FeedMore WNY Anne McKenna said." As we saw in the report today, the poverty levels are just outstanding. And we see that in the work that we do here, at FeedMore Western New York, everyday.”
The results of this report are from pre-pandemic conditions and McKenna believes right now, the number of people in poverty, may be even higher.
“Since March we have distributed 6.6 million pounds of food into the WNY community," she said. "That’s an increase of 54% over what we did over the same time period last year."
Researchers found the population living in or near poverty has grown by 5% since 2011. The total population of the Buffalo-Niagara region has only grown by .1%.
“It's a little overwhelming, but that’s what we’re here for,” McKenna said.
Robert Shibley, head researcher on the Number in Needs project, said one of the biggest contributors to the Buffalo-Niagara poverty issue is education and training, and McKenna of FeedMore WNY said they can help with that.
“We are working on rolling out a workforce development training program where we will teach warehouse training," McKenna said. "We’ll teach on the job training as well as life skills and soft skills that help prepare our students for the workforce.”
Experts say the pandemic may worsen poverty condition for up to 18 months, but organizations like Feedmore WNY are here to help.