TheVoiceOfJoyce In the aftermath of a white supremacist massacre at the Tops Grocery store on Buffalos East Side, the Black Community came together with purpose. Singletry and Big Ike’s formed non profits to teach kids cooking, introduced them to fresh fruits and vegetables with road-trips trips to farms 30 miles away and started hosting Stop and Shops at football games, bringing hot ethnic food to his people. While teaching kids cooking, they’re teaching soft skills and critical thinking. A Black woman has opened a halal market serving the Muslim community,while Buffalos West Side Bazaar is an incubator for the city’s new immigrant owned food businesses. Through tragedy, a new sense of Community and understanding is transforming the Buffalo communities.

At the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills arena, Singletary runs Heroes Kitchen, which aims to teach children how to cook. A weekly event, Singletary recalls making tacos with a group of kids, roasting the cumin seeds all the way down and adding red pepper, salt and black pepper to make their own taco seasoning. They made banana pudding and Rice Krispies for sweet treats, and have also made Alfredo pasta sauce and a baked mac and cheese finished with a custard sauce instead of a cheese sauce.

“We’re teaching them soft skills through the process of cooking,” says Singletary. “While learning how to make your own food, you’re learning patience, you’re learning timing, you’re learning critical thinking. It’s really expanding their entire thought process of culinary work.”

Executive chef Steven Forman teaches youth how to make simple desserts. Photograph: Brandon Watson/The Guardian

He connected with Ike and BG’s to host Stop and Shops. The restaurant also prepares packaged hot meals, which Singletary will deliver to seniors in need. He also does grocery store runs for these same elders and adults with special needs, working to stop the cycle of food insecurity in vulnerable populations. Singletary recreated the Black fish fry – an enduring tradition in Black communities across America – a version of which the Tops location on Jefferson had recreated weekly for its largely Black customers. Just after the shooting, Candles in the Sun purchased hundreds of fish and hosted fish frys for several weeks in a row. “That was a big thing for folks, and I didn’t want people to have that part of their week taken away,” he said.

The organization also takes children to Senek Farms, about 30 miles north of Buffalo, where they get to learn about the farming process, and plant and pick their own produce. He connected with coaches at Black high schools, many of which are understaffed and under-resourced, and began coming out with some of his team to slice fruit and hand out healthy snacks to the players, offering mentorship and encouragement alongside a few apple slices or Mount Royal plums.

And Singletary isn’t the only one doing this kind of work in the community. Feed Buffalo, a Black woman-owned, halal food pantry, helps vulnerable residents – particularly those who are Muslim – access quality food. And Buffalo’s West Side Bazaar, serves as an incubator for the city’s new, immigrant-owned food businesses.

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