Expansion Will Allow Market to Provide Fresh Foods in a Federally Recognized "Food Desert"
Funding Comes from Buffalo's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the groundbreaking for Mandela Market's expansion project on the East Side of Buffalo. The $145,000 expansion on East Ferry Street will allow for an increase in fresh and prepared food options in a federally recognized "food desert" where current options are not accessible for the neighborhood. The market will receive funding from the state's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund. The project is expected to be complete in Spring of 2020.
"New York State is laser focused on growing Buffalo's unprecedented momentum, and our investments in the four main north-south commercial corridors has sparked the revitalization of Buffalo's East Side," Governor Cuomo said. "Access to fresh, quality food options is critical to the growth and prosperity of a community, and the Mandela Market expansion will address the unique circumstances experienced within the East Side, leading to a stronger, thriving Buffalo for generations to come."
"Ahmed Saleh and all immigrants who call Buffalo home are making our community stronger. We are proud to support projects like the expansion of the Mandela Market and the continuing revitalization of Buffalo's East side," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke at today's event. "Lack of access to fresh food is a social injustice, and here in New York we are focused on alleviating food insecurity. The expanded Mandela Market will make it easier for Buffalo residents to access fresh fruits and vegetables - helping to ensure all families can put good food on the table."
Ahmed Saleh, an African immigrant who worked his way through business school, established Mandela Market in 2007. The market's success led to an expansion in 2012 and a second location opened on Broadway Street in 2018. Saleh is now focused on broadening the market's offerings to include healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables and prepared food - an undertaking that requires constructing an additional 1,500 square feet of new space and purchasing new equipment. Mandela Market will receive $130,000 from Empire State Development as part of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund.
The expansion will provide greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables for a neighborhood partially covered by a USDA-designated second standard food desert. Open 24 hours a day and accessible by bus route, the market will help residents of the area lead a healthier lifestyle and improved quality of life.
In March 2019, Governor Cuomo announced the $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, an initiative to spark revitalization of Buffalo's East Side through investments in the four main north-south commercial corridors: Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues. Funding will help revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through the preservation of historic buildings, funding of capital improvements in neighborhood assets, expansion of commercial opportunities, improvements to infrastructure, as well as the promotion of mixed-use private investment in these neighborhoods. The funding is designed to empower community residents to improve their businesses and neighborhoods, making it a ground up revitalization effort led by and directly benefiting the community. Mandela Market was one of the nine projects listed as part of a total $7.4 million allocation in direct project assistance, a list compiled by Empire State Development in conjunction with the City of Buffalo through public stakeholder meetings and listening sessions with business owners and neighborhood residents. Read more about Buffalo's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund here. The fund compliments previous investments on the East Side, including $10 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative and $5 million for the Buffalo Central Terminal, for a total of $65 million in investments since 2017.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, "We are working hard to guarantee every part of Buffalo shares in the city's economic recovery. By allocating resources that offer direct access and options for healthier food within Buffalo's neighborhoods, we are providing a better, stronger future for all of its residents."
Ahmed Saleh, owner of Mandela Market said, "We are proud to be doing an expansion of our business on Buffalo's East Side. I thank New York State for supporting this opportunity to bring fresh produce, new food options and additional jobs to a neighborhood in need of convenient, affordable and nutritious meal options."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "All New Yorkers deserve access to fresh foods, regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status, yet food deserts persist in underserved communities statewide. Through the expansion of Mandela's Market, residents on Buffalo's East Side will soon have a new resource for accessible, nutritional food options, which will in turn help foster healthier families across our entire city."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Ahmed Saleh's story is the epitome of the American Dream. Congratulations to him, his family and all of their employees. This $145,000 from the Buffalo East Side Corridor Development Fund through the Governor's Buffalo Billion will bolster the Hamlin Park and Cold Springs neighborhoods by bringing additional fresh vegetables, fruit, and nutritious food options. The expansion of The Mandela Market is just another show of New York State's commitment to revitalizing the city's East Side."
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "We look forward to seeing the expansion of Mandela Market's on Buffalo's East Side. I am grateful for yet another targeted investment from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund. I'm confident that residents who live in this neighborhood will appreciate having additional nutritional, prepared food options and fresh produce to enjoy all year long."