Black History Month Spotlight: African Heritage Food Co-Op
"Anything less than ownership is unacceptable."
The African Heritage Food Cooperative (AHFC) began in July 2016 when founder Alexander Wright first rallied a group of like-minded community members looking to provide fresh produce to Buffalo's food deserts — low-income neighborhoods without access to a large, high-quality grocery store.
Wright saw the negative health impact that lack of access to healthy, affordable food options was having on low-income Black community members. Diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart attacks were all more common. But Wright wanted to make sure that the solution he was building would be a lasting economic engine for the community, too.
Wright explains, "There have been all these strong Black leaders. These problems should have been solved, or close to solved. There have been great businesses, awesome businesses that are no longer there because people don't plan for what happens when they're gone." By adopting a shared ownership model, African Heritage Food Co-Op is building a sustainable future for the organization.
It was this eye on systems change that made African Heritage Food Co-Op an ideal recipient for the United Way and General Mills Community Food Systems Grant Program back in 2018. The grant, designed to support access to affordable, nutritious food and increase food-related employment and entrepreneurship, provided AHFC with $70,000 for capacity building. Those funds have helped AHFC build a solid foundation for their cornerstone project - the Future Flagship Location at 238 Carton Avenue in the heart of Buffalo's Fruit Belt (pictured in the rendering above.)
You can learn more about AHFC's vision for a sustainable food future or become a co-op member at myahfc.com.
Looking for fresh produce? You'll find the Produce Box Buy-In on the website as well. Or visit AHFC at the Broadway Market on Fridays and Saturdays to pick out your own selection of fruits and vegetables.
Find out more about United Way's research into childhood obesity and other community issues in the areas of health, education and financial stability: uwbec.org/research