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5000 Families get Food (and Hope) during COVID-19

Food donations & volunteers still needed.

COVID -19 is taking its toll on Western New Yorkers; families’ want for food has increased beyond comprehension. 

Addressing the situation, the Buffalo Dream Center Mobile Food Pantry has now pulled up to more than 50 neighborhoods to distribute groceries and hope to families in need. 

Dezmond McClinton delivering food

The Dream Center, a FeedMore WNY site, is a mobile food pantry that has reached a milestone of serving 5,000 households since the beginning of the pandemic. This 1000% increase in just 2 months is staggering, considering that there was no warning, which meant that there was no time (or formula in place) to step up the operation. Instead, organizers and volunteers have mobilized in unprecedented ways, by handing out groceries to families in need, many of whom are without work, homeless, and/or families that can’t keep up with the nutritional needs of growing children.

Rev. Eric Johns, the pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center, known for staying one week every year on the streets with Buffalo’s homeless, has been leading an effort with his wife, family, and church to feed people during the pandemic. Since the pandemic first struck, the Center’s mobile food pantry has attracted volunteers from across Western New York.

“It is our mission to not only bring food to people in need, but to bring hope and encouragement,” states Pastor Eric Johns. “We are seeing that every day! Good people are doing great things – we give thanks for the support, as we continue to bring hope.”

Receiving food, while practicing social distancing measures

During this crisis, the demand for food donations and volunteers is increasing for all the food pantries around Western New York. For Western New Yorkers who have little or no income, with children at home to feed, the Dream Center is a godsend. I can’t imagine the outcome of the unfortunate state of affairs at hand, without the unabated and steadfast volunteerism that has emanated from the Buffalo Dream Center.

For an entire list of Dream Center giveaways or donation locations, go to Buffalo Dream Center. If you would like further information, call (716) 854-1001 or email To find a local food pantry near you visit FeedMore WNY.

Lead image (L-R): Family photo – Alex Johns, Dezmond McClinton, Carmen Morales, Grandmother, Raul Osorio, and Adelana

Written by Mark Lazzara

Mark Lazzara

I have a passion for helping my fellow Western New Yorkers and advance the great things that are going on in this region. Buffalo Rising is a great booster and it’s a blast writing and contributing to BR about positive happenings in our neck of the woods. I appreciate the help I’ve received over the years from organizations and people who share my passion and supported me in efforts that put thousands of people to work and resulted in a community give back of more than $115M to Buffalo’s neediest during my days at the helm of AmeriCorps.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities that enabled me to help cities devastated by Hurricane Katrina and rebuild more than 700 family homes that were destroyed. Back at home, I was able to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience as a coordinator for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition where we were able to repair, beautify and upgrade homes for an entire neighborhood on Buffalo’s Westside. Other projects close to my heart include a collaboration with Sail Buffalo to build the Cazenovia Boating Center at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and my annual Christmas season time is spent at Buffalo’s treasure, the Broadway Market, playing Santa Clause.

In my other life, I am a workforce development, business, marketing, public relations and fundraising professional. Earned a M.S. Human Service Management from Buffalo State, and enjoy my family life that includes four amazing grandchildren!

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