Buffalo supermarket shooting made a ‘food desert’ in a Black neighborhood worse

The alleged shooter who killed 10 people and injured three more at a grocery store in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood was fueled by racism, according to authorities.

Its target location, a place to buy fresh fruit, produce and groceries in an area with few options for food buyers, was surrounded by the so-called food desert, and this is also a circumstance shaped by racism, the anti say the defenders of hunger.

Food deserts, a term for areas where few stores sell healthy and affordable food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “exist for two reasons: economy and bias,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America . “The economy exists all over America, in black and white America. And the bias is unique to black or Latin America.”

The “combination of economy and structural systemic racism” of a food desert is also driven by the “false belief that low-income people do not want to eat healthy,” Berg added. “This is just a bunk bed.”

The temporarily closed Tops Friendly Market, where the shooting took place, is located on the Black East Side of Buffalo, a city in northern New York that researchers say is one of the most segregated cities in the United States.

The Tops Market, opened in 2003, is surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods where at least 100 homes have no vehicle access and are at least half a mile from the nearest supermarket.

The Tops Market, which opened in 2003, is surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods where at least 100 households do not have access to a vehicle and are at least half a mile from the nearest supermarket, according to USDA data.

There are others near these neighborhoods that are at least a mile away from the nearest grocery store, according to the data, which was last updated in 2019.

Speaking at a news conference Sunday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said one of her concerns was “access to food in this neighborhood. We now have a food desert.” “A lot of people in this neighborhood walk to the grocery store,” Hochul said. “They have no transportation.”

Tops, who on Monday said he was “heartbroken by senseless violence,” is arranging free bus transportation to a different location, according to his Twitter TWTR.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Community Fridges, a network of public-access refrigerators where anyone can leave donated food to feed hungry people, is handing out an influx of monetary donations to members of its network and other community groups, according to the your Instagram FB.
account. One publication lists other local organizations where people can send donations.

Through a partnership with the state, people who need travel to buy groceries in zip codes 14208 and 14209 will be able to get a $ 25 discount on Lyft LYFT shared travel.
and $ 20 discount on Uber UBER,
trips to and from another Tops location, as well as a Price Rite. (More information available here.)

“I understand this is a crime scene, but as soon as we can open this store and be available to the neighborhood it will be vital to well-being and the feeling of being back to normal,” Hochul told the Sunday. Press conference.

But the “normal” experience of buying groceries can vary substantially by race, research shows.

A “food desert” is a space — a piece of neighborhood, a stretch of countryside, or otherwise — where it is difficult for consumers to have easy access to affordable fresh food.

A “food desert” is a space – a slice of neighborhood, a stretch of rural countryside or otherwise – where it is difficult for consumers to have easy access to affordable fresh food.

The Department of Agriculture recognizes that there are “many ways” to define what a food desert is, and one of the ways is a “low-income census tract with a substantial number or a substantial proportion of low-income residents.” at points of sale that sell healthy, affordable food. ” . ”

But there is also a racial component, the data show. For example, researchers at Johns Hopkins University said in a 2014 study that supermarkets were becoming increasingly scarce in black neighborhoods. “At equal levels of poverty, the black census sectors had fewer supermarkets, the white sectors had more and the integrated sectors were intermediate,” they wrote.

One in five black households is in a food desert, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said last year.

In fact, some advocates who trace the links between access to food, race, and income have said that terms like “food desert” are not fully applied and can be confusing or misleading because, they say, the lack of Access to fresh, healthy and affordable food is the result of municipal decisions, corporate decisions and support for government subsidies. A better phrase is “food apartheid,” they say.

“This is the only grocery store within a three to five mile radius. We were in a food desert, and I’d like to say food apartheid. This is an area, a meeting place for our entire community. . ‘

– The Rev. Mark Blue, President of the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP

“This is the only grocery store within a three- to five-mile radius,” Rev. Mark Blue, president of the NAACP’s Buffalo branch, told NewsNation on Monday. “We were in a food desert and I would like to say a food apartheid. This is an area, a meeting place for our whole community.”

Blue told MarketWatch that Tops is grateful to have a store, but noted that the grocery store is smaller compared to other Tops in other more suburban locations. Before there were more grocery store options, he said. “Now, due to lack of resources, people have to rely on fast food; they have to trust the corner store, ”he said.

The build-up of retail grocery stores beyond Buffalo could also have occurred on the city limits, especially in the neighborhood where Tops is located, Blue added. “I really think if there were more white residents in this area,” it could have been a different story, he said.

Food insecurity in black households increased to 21.7% in 2020 from 19.1% the previous year, according to the USDA.

It is difficult to identify the latest trends for access to food and food deserts in 2021 and 2022, Berg said. Consumer-oriented retail stores have faced all sorts of challenges in continuing to operate, but there has also been an expansion in online shopping, as well as expansions in government food subsidies, which could bring more fresh food. more places, Berg said.

But there are also headwinds of high inflation, which are especially hard to absorb for lower-income families. Compared to low-income families in European countries, Berg said, low-income families here do not have access to paid leave and free health care.

But at least American households faced relatively lower food prices compared to their European counterparts, Berg said. “If they lose even that, they will be even more affected,” he said.

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