Expand fresh food options to revive downtown Buffalo
No one wants to live in a food desert. Our city is one. While the construction and redevelopment of downtown Buffalo is exciting, it may end up for naught unless more alternatives to restaurants and gas station stores emerge. To facilitate repopulation and rejuvenation of our downtown, people need food options.
This summer, I noticed people eagerly flocking to Main Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the farmers market. People want to buy their food downtown! Sadly, there are only nine markets and zero supermarkets south of the Niagara Thruway’s exit 8 and west of Jefferson Avenue. None are south of Exchange Street. This lack of fresh food options enables existing stores to fix their prices higher because the few who do live downtown have extremely limited alternatives.
The logistics of delivering food in such bulk downtown is understandably daunting, but if bars, restaurants and existing markets can do so, then it is not impossible. One step in the right direction is the Harbor Corp.’s proposal to construct a public market in the Outer Harbor, but it is not enough. Increased public transportation options, more local farmers markets and innovative green practices, such as urban and rooftop farming, are options to deal with the food desert problem. Buffalo would also benefit from incentivizing new supermarkets.
The best solution might be expanding the already popular food truck business. Minneapolis recently allowed mobile grocery stores to sell fresh produce, increasing healthy food availability and supporting local farms. This is a quicker, cheaper and more versatile alternative to transition downtown from food desert to oasis. Our city needs residents, but residents need food. There are existing options, but we must utilize them to make Buffalo livable.