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Buffalo stores’ shelves are bare as people try desperately to restock groceries and essential items after deadly winter storm

Residents enter a local corner store in Buffalo, New York after Winter Storm Elliott.Residents enter a local corner store in Buffalo, New York, on December 26, 2022, as many major grocery stores remained closed.

Joed Viera/AFP via Getty Images

  • Buffalo grocery stores are struggling to keep up with heavy demand after reopening in the wake of Winter Storm Elliott. 
  • Local outlets reported bare shelves and a lack of items including fresh produce, bread, and eggs. 
  • Response to the storm, and lack of access to essential items, has shed light on structural inequality in the city. 

As Buffalo emerges from a harrowing winter storm that has killed dozens of people and trapped several residents in their homes without heat, many are struggling to find basic necessities at grocery stores. 

With roads clearing and companies reopening, the surge of demand has left many stores in the Western New York city unable to keep shelves stocked, according to local outlets. The response to the storm, as well as a pronounced lack of access to essential goods among working class communities of color, also has exacerbated disparities in class and the racial divide in one of the nation’s poorest cities.

Shoppers at a Tops grocery store told WIVB Buffalo that they are struggling to find basic items like fresh produce, lunch meat, eggs, bread, and baby formula.

“We came out just to pick up a couple items. Unfortunately they ran out of lunch meat, brown beef, bread, but hopefully we can find everything we want,” Carl Phillips and Sandra Jackson told WIVB Buffalo. “There is some items left here, but not very much, you just grab what you can and be thankful.”

“There’s a lot of empty … especially the fresh stuff, produce, bread, but it seems like everything else is picking up,” Tony Pecoraro, another Tops shopper, told WIVB Buffalo.

WIVB Buffalo reporter Sarah Minkewicz shared photos of the empty shelves on Twitter. 

—Sarah Minkewicz (@SarahMinkewicz) December 28, 2022


Working class communities of color especially are having a difficult time finding groceries and essentials, as the storm has shed light on persistent structural inequality in the city, including inadequate housing, food desserts, and lack of government funding, according to The Washington Post. 

Of the 39 people reported dead from the storm, 31 hailed from Buffalo, a majority of which were people of color found outside or trapped in cars, the Post reported.

“This area is so heavily impacted by these systemic issues, and it’s largely because of poverty,” Al Robinson, a Christian leader in Buffalo who helped house residents displaced by the storm in his church, told The Washington Post. “And impoverished people happen to be people of color.”

Read the original article on Business Insider