Building Healthy Communities

Project Title

The African Heritage Food Co-op of Niagara Falls

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Building Healthy Communities

Date Awarded

June 24, 2019


Western NY




In January 2017, a subset of the Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative created the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan, a resident-driven plan to help increase access to nutritious and affordable food.

The plan found that the Hyde Park and Highland Avenue neighborhoods are “food deserts”—neighborhoods that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. It also found that 50% of residents in the North End of Niagara Falls, one of NYHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities, travel more than 30 minutes to buy their food, and 27% of residents travel more than 45 minutes. Even in neighborhoods where food is technically accessible, residents are concerned about the freshness, quality, and variety of food available. In an effort to mitigate these issues, the African Heritage Food Co-op launched a monthly community share agreement to distribute fresh groceries to residents, and in June 2016, it opened a brick-and-mortar store in the Highland Avenue neighborhood of Niagara Falls. In 2019, NYHealth awarded a grant to the African Heritage Food Co-op to support the expansion of the store and an outreach program to increase residents’ access to and consumption of nutritious foods.

Under this grant, the Co-op created additional access points for nutritious foods in the Highland Avenue neighborhood, and focused on building its customer base and increasing its capacity. The Co-op increased community engagement through local programming that promoted healthy eating and cooking, and offered low-cost or free food delivery services to residents. Additionally, the Co-op developed an urban agriculture program on the land surrounding the store and hosted weekly sessions to engage residents in growing local food.