The African Heritage Food Co-op of Niagara Falls
Building Healthy Communities
June 24, 2019
In January 2017, a subset of the Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative created the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan, a resident-driven plan to help increase access to nutritious and affordable food. The plan found that the Hyde Park and Highland Avenue neighborhoods are “food deserts”—neighborhoods that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. It also found that 50% of residents in the North End of Niagara Falls, one of NYSHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities, travel more than 30 minutes to buy their food, and 27% of residents travel more than 45 minutes. Even in neighborhoods where food is technically accessible, residents are concerned about the freshness, quality, and variety of food available. In an effort to mitigate these issues, the African Heritage Food Co-op launched a monthly community share agreement to distribute fresh groceries to residents, and in June 2016, it opened a brick-and-mortar store in the Highland Avenue neighborhood of Niagara Falls. In 2019, NYSHealth awarded a grant to the African Heritage Food Co-op to support the expansion of the store and an outreach program to increase residents’ access to and consumption of nutritious foods.
Under this grant, the Co-op will create additional access points for nutritious foods in the Highland Avenue neighborhood, focusing on building its customer base and increasing its capacity. The Co-op will increase community engagement through local programming that promotes healthy eating and cooking, and will offer low-cost or free food delivery services to residents. Additionally, the Co-op will develop an urban agriculture program on the land surrounding the store and host weekly sessions to engage residents in growing local food.