The Buffalo Bills Foundation partnered with Wegmans Food Markets and 20 different Huddle for Hunger nonprofits that work to provide food access to communities around Western New York.
Nearly 12 percent of all households in the Buffalo Niagara region lack access to a supermarket because they live beyond the average walking distance for grocery shopping, which is 0.4 miles. Black and Brown neighborhoods specifically are often red-lined by supermarkets, creating a disproportionate lack of access in those communities.
The Buffalo Bills Foundation's focus is on addressing child hunger, increasing access to nutritious food for families and supporting healthy eating in the WNY region, according to their website. Proceeds from the 50/50 held during Thursday night's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers totaled $100,000 and were distributed among the 20 different HFH charities.
Last week, Wegmans' Meals 2GO orders were matched up to $50,000 by Wegmans. In addition to the $100,000 presented by the Bills Foundation, Wegmans donated $50,000 to the Huddle for Hunger charities.
A brief check presentation was held at a small East Side outdoor farm owned and operated by Buffalo Go Green, a non-profit that provides locals with improved access to local foods and one of the 20 Huddle for Hunger Charities.
Children from PS 53, located just a few blocks away from the farm, were in attendance and had a chance to tour the farm and nearby greenhouse to learn about the healthy fruits and vegetables that were being grown in their neighborhood.
Bills cornerback Josh Norman, who spent the 2020 season in Buffalo and re-signed with the Bills earlier this month, and the SHIELD 1 Foundation sponsored the development of the community farm and greenhouse. The SHIELD 1 Foundation is a non-profit founded by Norman, Saints linebacker Demario Davis and former Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2020.
Norman said that after the racially motivated mass shooting in 2022 at a Tops Friendly Markets in the East Side, SHIELD 1 was motivated to help a neighborhood suffering the loss of not only 10 community members, but the only nearby grocery store.
Norman also said that Buffalo held a special place in his heart. He enjoyed a walk over with the students from PS 53 and toured the garden alongside them.
"[Buffalo] is always a dear part of my life and they have a space in my heart. When I came, it was during the pandemic and we couldn't touch you, see you," Norman said. "So I'm just getting the full effects of everyone being around."
Norman, a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2015, knows the importance of eating healthy – especially for young children who might not have easy access to healthy foods at home.
"It's your fuel," Norman said. "It's like putting in gas. … If I'm a Ferrari, why would I be putting regular in my tank? If you're a Ferrari, you want to put premium in there."
Allison DeHonney, the CEO and Executive Director of Buffalo Go Green, briefly explained to the children the importance of eating pesticide-free and non-GMO produce.
During DeHonney's short message, one student spoke up, saying that she often rode or walked by the garden and loved the sunflowers. As the children walked around the garden, there was a curiosity expressed about the various plants in the garden, a curiosity that might fuel their futures.
Josh Norman, representatives from 20 Huddle for Hunger Charities, and 3 fourth grade classes from School #53 took a field trip to Buffalo Go Green. The event included a tour of the Urban Farm, Grossed, and a check presentation from the Buffalo Bills Foundation and Wegmans.