As a way to better address the issue of food security in WNY, University at Buffalo has published an interactive map that shows where people can access a variety of wholesome foods during this time of crisis. These food sources range from Grassroots Gardens Community Gardens to food pantries to urban farms.
The map, made with Google Maps, is part of the Seeding Resilience initiative that is in place to help alleviate mounting food access concerns during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The map is designed to help people have information about food resources in one place. People can zoom into the location of their neighborhood and identify the closest free pantry, for example,” says Samina Raja, PhD, professor of urban and regional planning in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, director of the Food Lab and a co-convener of Seeding Resilience.“Information generated in the map is also a reflection of a community’s collective spirit in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Community residents send us information about food resources, and we update the map as fast as we can. This is truly the result of a community effort.”
Raja added that the map is especially useful for underserved people who are living in food deserts currently, where there is typically little access to wholesome foods. Many of these neighborhoods have been redlined by supermarkets in the past, which means that residents have had to rely upon corner stores and gas stations for readily accessible provisions. By providing an online resource that pinpoints the closest market and/or garden resources, the hope is that more people will be able to access the food supplies that might otherwise remain untapped.
It was a community-led coalition that made the interactive map possible – the mapping lead was taken by Zhu Jin, PhD, a research affiliate with the UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (Food Lab) and a member of the food equity team in the UB Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity.
Click here to view the map – on the lefthand side is a scrolling checklist that can be toggled to pull up the different resources.