BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Finding fresh, healthy food is an everyday struggle for some residents on Buffalo’s East Side. Now, the community and corporate partners are rallying to help, bringing farmers’ markets with locally sourced food and Buffalo-based vendors to the Delavan-Grider neighborhood.

“The population of the East Side of Buffalo is about 110,000 people and there’s only one supermarket serving that entire community,” Chiwuike Owunwanne, corporate responsibility officer for KeyBank, said.

When the Tops on Jefferson Avenue was closed after the mass shooting at the store on May 14, some people were left without a reliable food source in their area. Many had to travel to other parts of the city and even to other towns to find the food they needed.

“This is just one of the challenges that folks within this neighborhood and this community have been dealing with,” Owunwanne said.

Food insecurity has been a problem for East Side residents for decades, according to Owunwanne. Buffalo Go Green is an organization that brings fresh produce to neighborhoods that is grown on their urban farm.

“You can always get food, but is it nutritious food? Is it chemical and pesticide free? Is it locally sourced?” Allison DeHonney, executive director of Buffalo Go Green, said.

Even though the Tops is back open, there still are not enough healthy food sources for residents, according to community leaders. That’s why KeyBank partnered with Buffalo-based vendors to host a farmers market at the Delavan-Grider Community Center. Customers received a $10 voucher to use on food, clothing and other items. DeHonney says farmers markets like this one are hard to launch because they often require a subsidy. These vouchers were donated by KeyBank.

“Now that the Tops is back open, it’s difficult to get there. We want to make sure we are providing markets in these pockets where it is difficult for folks to get to grocery outlets,” DeHonney added.

Residents were grateful for the voucher program that allowed them to take home fresh produce that they need.

“This was really nice and really needed in the community because of the economy right now and inflation, everything is going sky high. They were nice enough to give you a voucher, a ten dollar voucher to purchase some items,” Sheila Veal, a nearby resident, told News 4.

The Tops on Jefferson Avenue is the closest grocery store to the neighborhood and it sits nearly 2.5 miles from Delavan-Grider. Residents say they need a supermarket of their own.

“If you’re on a bus, it’s going to take you two buses to get there,” Veal said. “Not everyone in this area can afford a car, the luxury of having a vehicle. Gas [price] is high for one thing and for those who do have a vehicle, you may have other choices that you can only use your gas to get to work and back home, so its very important that we have a grocery store in this community.”

Event leaders say they hope to work with community partners to bring vendors that serve the residents’ needs. The farmers market will be open every other Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Delavan-Grider Community Center.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.