How Buffalo is feeding residents after grocery store in food desert closed

How Buffalo is feeding residents after grocery store in food desert closed
Volunteers hand out free groceries to residents in Buffalo at the Community Fridge (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

Following a race-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead and three injured, Tops Friendly Market has temporarily closed as officials have yellow tape around the now-crime scene.

There’s a sign outside the tape alerting residents they can take a shuttle to another Tops grocery store in the town. Beyond that, the rest of the help has come from volunteers. Whether it’s M&T Bank, the American Red Cross, local community members cooking out or ordering free pizzas, or even a free community refrigerator, volunteers are keeping Buffalo citizens from going hungry in the wake of the tragedy.


Rolling out recently caught up with Latisha Springer in Buffalo, after the founder of Free99Fridge traveled to Western New York from Atlanta, to lend an extra set of hands at the town’s Community Fridge.

You guys are out here feeding the people?


They had the community fridge out here already. The community fridge has been a staple here in the community, but we’ve extended the services after everything that happened. So there’s a table to distribute food, we’re out here every day, from morning until the evening making sure people have what they need and keeping the fridge stocked.

What made you come up here from Atlanta?

Just here in solidarity. I have my community partners out in Atlanta, and they’re doing their fridges here. I knew they were going to be overwhelmed, and needed some extra hands, more boots on the ground, so I flew up here. Like I told you, we just got here two hours ago, just flew in to help out.

How long do you think the Community Fridge will be out here, and how pivotal is it to have something like this in the meantime?

Well, the Fridge is going to stay out here. We didn’t put the Fridge on here for this, we actually already had the Fridge, the table is just the extension. So the Fridge will remain, this is not a pandemic solution, or COVID, whatever. This is just something that should remain because solidarity is what needs to happen for us to stick together and help each other. So the Fridge will stay here. We will be here all week. And I guess until the community needs us. I’m not sure yet. We’re taking it day-by-day, you know, and seeing what happens.

What have you sensed from the people as far as their spirit at this time?

Like I said, I just got here, so I’m really just kind of feeling it out, but I was just telling them that everyone seems so happy still. I expected it to be kind of sad. I was sad coming up here. And so I expected maybe the mood to be a little bit down, but everyone’s in great spirits. Super grateful, and just in good spirits.

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