BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday that Buffalo’s African Heritage Food Co-op will receive $200,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

Formed in 2016, the African Heritage Food Cooperative is an organization that pushes to increase access to nutritious and affordable food in underserved Western New York communities, generate sustainable economic benefits by providing local employment and vendor opportunities, and encourage community ownership and involvement through cooperative participation.

Following the Tops supermarket shooting, which created a food desert on Buffalo’s East Side, Schumer hopes that the funding will improve food resources and options for East Side residents, as well as provide new market opportunities for farmers, stabilizing small and independent retailers, and creating good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for communities that need it most.

Access to fresh, affordable, healthy food is a basic right that has been constricted for neighborhoods across Buffalo’s East Side for far too long. Community leaders, like Buffalo’s African Heritage Food Co-op, have long worked to address these challenges and I am proud to deliver this USDA investment to Buffalo’s African Heritage Food Co-op to uplift community-led efforts that will directly tackle food insecurity caused by years of racially discriminatory policies. When I fought alongside community leaders years ago to open the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue, I had no idea how this supermarket would one day become such a neighborhood hub. While the community continues to mourn and heal from the horrific evils of the racially-motivated, mass shooting, I hope that today’s investment can serve as a small beacon of light for a brighter future for the East Side. I will not stop fighting to deliver more federal investment to give Buffalo’s families the fresh, affordable food and peace of mind they desperately deserve.”

Sen. Charles Schumer