BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In the wake of the Tops Markets shooting on Jefferson Ave., there’s been concern that many sources of help will pack up and leave that neighborhood behind. Local organizations say food distribution sites and mental health resources are here for the long-term.

“This need is not going away,” Catherine Shick, public relations manager for FeedMore WNY, said.

Western New York has responded to tragedy with love, which is the message from FeedMore WNY. The nonprofit announced free food distribution sites will be held Wednesdays at Resource Council of WNY and Fridays at the Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion from 3-7p.m., through July 8. FeedMore said there are 11 hunger-relief partners within one mile of the Tops location.

Those locations are:

  • Refuge Temple Church, 943 Jefferson Ave. (716) 886-2199
  • Urban Christian Ministries, 967 Jefferson Ave. (716) 882-9472
  • Cold Spring Community Foundation, 234 Glenwood Ave. (716) 310-3541
  • Group Ministries, 1333 Jefferson Ave. (716) 259-8039
  • Upper Room Church of God in Christ, 131 Florida St. (716) 884-2512
  • Joseph Project Mobile Food Pantry, 449 Masten Ave. (716) 854-1001
  • Network of Religious Communities, 1272 Delaware Ave. (716) 882-7705
  • St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, 1298 Main St. (716) 882-3360
  • Catholic Charities-Rich Street Food Pantry, 930 Genesee St. (716) 314-7050
  • Humboldt Parkway Baptist Church, 790 Humboldt Parkway (716) 896-4363
  • Missionary Outreach Calvary, 1184 Genesee St. (716) 895-3642

“FeedMore WNY is proud to partner with them and many local community partners, in order to continue to serve our neighbors who have been affected by the mass shooting, and the subsequent closure of Tops on Jefferson Avenue,” Shick continued.

The Resource Council itself has also expanded its food distribution days to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Erie County will also be a community partner. The Resource Council says they are serving as a community hub on E. Ferry St. with many free services available.

“Not only will you have a bag of food waiting for you, but we also want to make sure that we are taking care of your family, your mindset,” Resource Council President and CEO Catherine Roberts added.

Leaders have been calling for greater change, including during Margus Morrison’s funeral on Friday.

“We need to change Buffalo. We need to have more than one supermarket in the Black community,” Rev. Al Sharpton said.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said leaders are looking at adding more grocery stores on the East Side, but the burden shouldn’t just be on Tops Markets. Save-A-Lot and Aldi recently added stores in the area.

“I don’t want people to assume that this is just a Tops issue. There are other supermarkets in this area that could build on the East Side of Buffalo and have elected not to,” County Executive Poloncarz explained.

Poloncarz says Tops has the most stores in the city, but other stores have not invested as heavily on the East Side.

“There are some very well-known ones that have two or three in the Amherst-Cheektowaga area and only have one in Buffalo,” Poloncarz continued.

Wegmans has one store in the City of Buffalo. They sent a statement, which in part says their business model is not effective in every geographic area.

This is a question we continue to be asked. Being a food retailer, we certainly understand the importance and need for everyone to have access to affordable, nutritious food – it’s vital to every community.

Some believe the solution to this problem is for Wegmans to build a store in areas that are considered food deserts. We operate a high-volume, low-price business; we require a lot of customers shopping in our stores to achieve the volume needed to be successful. We employ roughly 500 people per store to provide the high service customers have come to expect from Wegmans. We know from experience that this business model is not effective in all geographic areas. Bringing a high-volume retailer to these areas could potentially deter a smaller full-service food retailer – whose business model is a better fit – from moving in, or take business away from existing bodegas and small businesses in that area.

Wegmans

Alongside additional food stores, Poloncarz said the Federal government is making a long-term investment in the East Side to support city residents.

“The Federal government is actually putting its money where its mouth is by supporting a resiliency center to help our community overcome this,” Poloncarz said.

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.