The Independent Health Foundation and Independent Health teamed up with Pegula Sports & Entertainment to support underserved families in the City of Buffalo by providing essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Northland Workforce Training Center.
About 600 wellness bags, and 800 produce bags from the African Heritage Food Co-Op, were distributed on Friday, May 8 to East Side residents, including the families of Northland students, as well as participants in the Independent Health Foundation’s Soccer for Success and Good for the Neighborhood programs.
The free wellness bags contain several essential items, including hand sanitizer, reusable masks, soap, washcloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other personal items, plus an inflatable soccer beach ball, jump rope, and sidewalk chalk for kids. The produce bags included various fruits and vegetables, along with recipe cards for easy, affordable Healthy Options® meals.
Mayor Byron W. Brown visited Northland Workforce Training Center today for the event.
“We are truly blessed in Buffalo to have great partners who are so committed to the health and well-being of City residents,” Mayor Brown stated. “During this COVID-19 emergency, we must continue to work together to ensure that no one is left out and no one is left behind. I thank Independent Health, the Independent Health Foundation, and Pegula Sports & Entertainment for teaming up with the Northland Workforce Training Center to further protect our people by equipping them with essential food and wellness supplies. This is yet another shining example as to why we are the City of Good Neighbors. Please stay safe and healthy. We are all in this together.”
Carrie Meyer, executive director of the Independent Health Foundation, described the Foundation’s evolving role during this crisis.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the individuals and communities we serve,” she said. “While the Foundation cannot physically host events, the organization is adapting its services in response to the needs of the community through various efforts like distributing wellness bags and produce, and providing virtual cooking classes and other resources.”
Pegula Sports & Entertainment has undertaken a number of initiatives around helping the community through this public health crisis, including essential funding for the produce and wellness bags.
“We are fortunate to partner with our friends at Independent Health and the Independent Health Foundation, and happy to do our small part to aid those in need during this crisis,” said Dan Misko, senior vice president of business development at Pegula Sports & Entertainment. “We are a strong, resilient community, and we will get through this together.”
Stephen Tucker, president & CEO of Northland Workforce Training Center, echoed the need to help communities most impacted.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting minority and underserved communities the hardest, and is further exacerbated by a lack of healthy food options and essential wellness supplies such as sanitizer and masks,” he said. “As such, Northland Workforce Training Center is proud to partner with the Independent Health Foundation, Independent Health, and Pegula Sports & Entertainment to distribute these much needed items on the front lines in our community.”
The Foundation secured and purchased many items for the wellness and produce bags from local businesses to support the local economy. Several small businesses, including African Heritage Co-Op, Braymiller Market, Buffalo Distilling Company, Hartman’s Distilling Co., Honest Apothic, Martinsville Soapworks, Peace of the City, Uncle Jumbo’s American Vodka, and Vintage House Soap Factory donated products and offered discounts to make this giveaway possible.
Additional sponsors included Gelia, HEALTHeLINK, Just 4 Me Pediatric Dentistry, Magellan Rx, Near East and West Side Task Force, and University Pediatric Dentistry.
An additional 10,000 wellness bags will be given out to Buffalo Public School families as they pick up their free lunches at 21 community schools throughout the city on May 13. The Independent Health Foundation has also hosted several wellness-bag giveaways at Good for the Neighborhood sites in Buffalo, Lackawanna, East Aurora, and Akron, and plans several more events throughout Buffalo and in Niagara Falls over the next couple weeks. Altogether, more than 12,000 wellness bags and 2,700 bags of produce will be distributed.