BNMC’s Third Annual Food As Medicine Symposium “Transformative Practices for Health” Will Take Place on September 27th and 28th at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB

Buffalo, NY – BNMC is pleased to announce the upcoming Food as Medicine Symposium, “Transformative Practices for Health.” The symposium will take place on September 27th and 28th, 2023 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. The school is located at 955 Main Street.

This two-day event aims to bring together national and local speakers to facilitate discussions and workshops centered around value-based practices. This year’s symposium will focus on the food industry, food equity, and lifestyle medicine. Additionally, the event will highlight partners’ food and nutrition practices rooted in integrity, accountability, and transparency, which are contributing to meaningful and sustainable change in clinical and population health outcomes.

The agenda for the 2023 symposium includes a range of activities designed both for community members and healthcare professionals.

On Day 1, participants will have the option to choose between two workshops. The first workshop, led by Registered Dietitian Rachel Laster and Rhonda Wilson of Buffalo Black Nurses, will offer a cooking demonstration for the general public, showcasing how to incorporate food as medicine in daily life. The second workshop, facilitated by Dr. Ted Barnett of the Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute, is tailored for clinicians and members of the healthcare team, focusing on integrating food as medicine, and whole-food plant-based nutrition, into their practice.

Day 2 of the symposium will feature a morning keynote address on food equity by Dr. Angela Odoms Young from Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology. This will be followed by a panel discussion on food equity, exploring how stakeholders outside the food system can advance health and food equity through food as medicine programs. The afternoon keynote by Chef Dr. Robert Graham of Fresh Medicine NYC will delve into the field of lifestyle medicine, followed by a panel discussion highlighting best practice models for lifestyle medicine and culinary medicine programs.

The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion featuring representatives from the private food sector, examining their contributions to health outcomes, sustainability, and profit within the complex landscape of nutrition and health.

Accreditation for continuing medical education (CME) will be provided by the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

To learn more and register, visit:

BNMC is happy to offer discounted tickets for non-profits with this code FAMNP2023 and FREE tickets for students with this code FAMSTU2023.

This year’s symposium is generously sponsored by the Jacobs School and the School of Public Health and Public Health Professions at UB.

About Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus  

For more than twenty years, The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus organization (BNMC) has been a driving force in Buffalo’s economic renaissance. Throughout its management of the growth of Buffalo’s premier innovation district, the BNMC has foregrounded smart economic, social, and environmental development, prioritizing health & well-being and sustainability. Today, the BNMC is focused on the next phase of Buffalo’s ongoing resurgence, cultivating inclusive innovation in partnership with our community. BNMC launched its flagship program, IC Success in 2021 to provide support to aspiring entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to help them start or grow a business. Program graduates form the heart of Buffalo’s growing Innovation Community comprised of businesses large and small in an array of disciplines and leading the region’s next wave of economic development and growth. BNMC 


Adriana Viverette

Digital Communications Manager

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

(716) 348-4126

Mental Health Matters at BNMC

On Tuesday February 14th , the BNMC Healthy Workplace Initiative hosted a Mental Health First Aid training for its client companies. There were 22 people in attendance from 11 companies, including Walsh Duffield, United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lawley, and Pegula Sports Entertainment.
This nationally recognized training was provided locally by Compeer Buffalo, a non-profit that takes a friendship wp-contentroach to Mental Health. Its model is nationally recognized and has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the American Psychiatric Association.

Mental Health First Aid training aims to educate the public on how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Upon completion of the training, participants received a certificate, identifying them as Mental Health First Aiders, equipped with the skills needed to reach out, offer help, and support someone who may be experiencing a crisis. Participants also walk away with a simple 5-step action plan in hand to help a colleague, loved one, or neighbor in dealing with a crisis until professional treatment is obtained.

Mental health is the most frequently requested topic among companies in the Healthy Workplace Initiative, and it is unfortunate the depth of local data available that supports this trend. According to the Economic Impact of Poor Health on Our WNY Community, depression alone is 19% prevalent in the Buffalo-Niagara region and costs our local workforce $170 million per year in medical spending and $415.7 million productivity losses each year. These data, combined with the existing stigma surrounding mental health, demonstrate the immediate need for further action to address the well-being of our region. BNMC hosted this training to not only improve mental health literacy among the local workforce, but to also empower collective urgency in combating mental health stigma through harnessing a proactive wp-contentroach.

In addition to being highly informative and educational on a variety of mental health challenges, the training featured a series of interactive activities to further reinforce course content. One of the most impactful activities involved comparing various mental health challenges with physical health illnesses. Based on a study by the World Health Organization, the rankings demonstrated how mental health challenges can be equally or even more compromising to activities of daily life as physical health challenges, such as vision loss.

Thank you to Walsh Duffield for sponsoring the event!

For more information on Mental Health First Aid Training, please visit

Hotlines in Crisis

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

National Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

24-Hour Suicide Prevention Hotline for Erie County 716-834-3131

UB’s CTSI Community Partnership Development Seed Grant

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) provides seed grants that support the planning of community-based participatory research projects and engagement of communities in research.
The goal of these awards is to increase the number of community-academic partnerships that are prepared to collaborate on the design and implementation of research projects, specifically those that address health disparities, aim to improve health equity, and generate preliminary data for submission of larger grants to intramural and extramural sources. Seed grants not exceeding $5,000 will be awarded to academic-community teams for:

  • Development of community-engaged research partnerships
  • Collaboration on the design of pilot research
  • Development of community-engaged research proposals for external funding

Letters of Intent are due by March 9, 2020. Selected LOIs will be invited to submit full proposals based on criteria outlined in the RFP.

CLICK HERE for more information!

REDDY BikeShare Has Best Year Yet!

Big things are hwp-contentening on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus! As REDDY BikeShare celebrates 2019 being its fourth and most successful season – including its bike fleet hitting 200 and expanding to Niagara Falls – the Innovation Center tenant gears up for another successful season with even more in store for the 2020! (Not to mention handing out some free REDDY memberships to some lucky Buffalo bikers!) CLICK HERE to read REDDY’s full Buffalo Rising feature and learn more about what they have going on!

BNMC’s Healthy Communities Team Attends USDA Agriculture and Marketing Summit

BNMC’s Healthy Communities Team Attends USDA Agriculture and Marketing Summit

In early October, the BNMC Healthy Communities team attended the USDA Agriculture and Marketing Summit in Rosemont, IL, as one of 44 organizations in the United States that received the Local Foods Promotion Program (LFPP) Grant. This conference was a platform to connect with other grantees, learn best practices in promoting local food, and attend a tour of Local Foods grocery store.

We had the opportunity to meet with farmers working as agents of change to solve problems in their regional food systems. Some were creating technology solutions and another established a cost-sharing model equated to “Uber for farmers” to streamline distribution efforts. Flannel seemed to be a prominent clothing choice!

BNMC was one of only a few institutions in attendance, and the only organization focused on bringing local food to health care.

Farm-to-School in Boulder Valley

One of the institutions BNMC met with was Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, CO, who sources over 25% of its food from a 50-mile radius to feed its more than 31,000 students with scratch cooked meals. Our team learned about the various promotional events BVSD hosts to support the success of their local foods program and how they educate parents and the greater community about these efforts. These events included almost 40 field trips for students, staff, and parents to local farms; school food festivals with recipes from the cafeteria; hosting “Community Conversations” for farmers to connect with consumers; and 200+ education events the school hosts for parents and community each year to share the project widely. Other than promoting local foods, another major aspect of their program is focusing on only hormone and antibiotic free meats, as well as only using vendors offering RPC’s (re-useable plastic containers). Although this model was from a school-setting, many of the practices at the school level can be translated into hospital and healthcare.

A Truly Local Grocery Store

Also included in the conference was a tour of Local Foods, a Chicago-based grocery store focused on sourcing products that are locally sourced, locally processed, and from ethical producers and suppliers for non-local items. The tour included a lunch featuring the best quality seasonal foods from mid-west farmers and a behind-the-scenes look at their impressive operations, storage, and tracking mechanisms. Local Foods has a whole animal butchery, which purchases and uses the whole animal to sell in their retail location since these items cannot go through the distribution channel. This is beneficial for ranchers as by purchasing the entire animal ranchers aren’t stuck with trying to sell the remaining parts of the animal. For the consumer, it means higher quality, better tasting meat, and a known source to where one’s meal came from. No more mystery meat!

Fresh Ideas for FreshTakes

On the last day of the conference, we attended a panel discussion on promoting and marketing local foods by three companies in the greater “Chicagoland” region, featuring Local Foods, Mighty Vine Tomatoes, and Farmer’s Fridge. This was a special moment for the BNMC team as the Farmers Fridge model was the inspiration for bringing the FreshTakes Smart Fridge to the Medical Campus. We fan-crushed a little bit, and bought their salads and snacks from the fridge in the Chicago O’Hare airport. It did not diswp-contentoint! From the panel, the team learned better ways to promote the FreshTakes smart fridges on Campus as well as how to break the traditional stereotype for vending machines being unhealthy. Additionally, based off of the Mighty Vine Tomatoes and Local Foods model, we will share successful industry practices with our community partners all in the WNY regional food system.


100 Days of Summer Wellness

100 Days of Summer Wellness

September is the time of year we simultaneously love and dread. Summer fun and vacations are over, and we’re brought back to routine work and school schedules. On Campus, we see more medical students – working, eating, and commuting beside us, as the new semester starts. Our hospitals continue to deliver world-renowned health care around-the-clock, while seasonal vegetables pop up on cafeteria menus along with festive pumpkin decorations on the inpatient floors. This time of year carries a spirit of being given a fresh start and inspiring us to get back to the grind – similar to the New Year. Except instead of winter weather advisories and health resolutions there are pumpkin spice lattes and back to school sales!

With that, let’s reflect on how healthy we’ve been together for the past 100 days of wellness this summer:

  • Weekly Tuesday yoga class engaged 151 people in 780 minutes of physical activity, which is the equivalent of 13 hours of pure yogi bliss. Thank you Yogis in Service.
  • 3000+ healthy meals were sold from the Innovation Center’s Fresh Takes Smart Fridge.
  • Group bike rides on Friday afternoons shredded 3,570 calories for 71 miles. That’s like biking to Niagara on the Lake and back. Thank you Reddy Bikeshare.
  • 1000+ CSA shares were distributed campus wide, providing employees and their families with fresh local produce, conveniently delivered to them right at work.
  • On Walk on Wednesdays, we walked 319,600 steps and burned 12,772 calories over 160 miles, which basically means we walked from Buffalo to Toronto and back. #runforestrun
  • The opening of Healthy Scratch at Buffalo General Medical Center in June 2019.
  • There were 1,000+ bike rentals from Medical Campus Reddy Bikeshare stations and 1,400 rides through the BNMC zone.
  • All 25 food trucks in the BNMC Food Truck Rodeo offered certified healthy options.

With all these healthy wins, let’s capture that New Years spirit of determination and get right to it now, in September! My charge to you is to make it your healthiest month of 2019 – we have the best local produce of the season, the weather is just right for walking and biking outside, and football is starting so you’ll need the healthy activities to balance tailgating festivities. Check out our Fall Wellness schedule!

New England Farm to Institution Summit 2019: 5 Takeaways

BNMC’s Healthy Communities team attended the New England Farm to Institution Summit in Amherst, Mass. earlier this month to share how we’re creating a culture of health on the Medical Campus, and learn about other farm-to-institution programs across the country. We are excited to wp-contently some of these concepts to our own Farm-to-Hospital program here in Buffalo!
Congrats to R. Russ from Kaleida Health for winning the first $50 gift card to Homegrown Kitchen! There’s still time to complete the survey – share your thoughts with us today.

Here are some take-aways from Beth Machnica, our Healthy Communities Catalyst:

New England Farm to Institution Summit 2019: 5 Takeaways

There were many great lessons to be learned from attendees, presenters, exhibitors and others who participated in the 2019 New England Farm to Institution Summit. The Summit was held at University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, where they are making strides in offering local, sustainable food. While we are highlighting our 5 takeaways below, there was one theme that came up often throughout the Summit – equity. We often forget about the people throughout the entire food system who make everything possible – from the people growing our food and caring for the land – to those processing our food, fishing our seas, moving the food to our stores and institutions, and serving the food in hospitals, schools, prisons and restaurants. We heard from Jose Oliva, the co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. According to Jose, there are over 20 million food chain employees, making it the largest employer, and unfortunately, they are some of the lowest paying jobs and in hazardous working conditions. While we consider all the other takeaways, working towards an equitable food system is something that we all need to challenge ourselves to work towards.  

1. Invite farmers to campus cafeterias.

A best practice for any farm to institution project includes bringing the farmers, growers, and fishermen right to where the food is served. It links consumers eating the food with the individuals who handpicked it, connecting people with the food system and the person that grew the food on their plate. This can also be done on a regular basis through marketing materials highlighting specific farms, and telling stories of specific farmers and families. Coordinating field trips is great to build the link with staff and students, but bringing the farmer to campus allows many more to make the connection.

2. Hospitals have a lot to learn from prisons and jails.

Among the schools, hospitals, and universities attending this Farm to Institution conference were also prisons and jails. For correctional facilities involved in the farm to institution movement the benefits are greater than just supporting local farmers, the ag economy, and providing healthier foods: it’s about transformative healing. State prisons engage inmates in gardening, nutrition classes, food preparation, eating healthy on a low budget, and composting. These initiatives have a far greater purpose than simply promoting health or teaching in-demand job skills. They build self-efficacy, empowerment, and promote mental and emotional wellbeing among inmates. These initiatives can easily be translated into a clinical setting to promote healing and well-being among patients and caretakers.

3. Healthcare needs to take on an advocacy role in food policy.

Our Healthy Communities team learned how policy influences much more than just food safety in institutional settings. The Food Safety Modernization Act, a federal law, incentivizes local sourcing within 400 miles and promotes food chain transparency, both of which are goals for the Farm to Hospital Initiative that BNMC is leading locally. This law supports BNMC institutions in increasing their procurement of local food. It also demonstrates the critical position hospitals hold in influencing systems change through food policy to align with health and well-being programs.

4. Define “Local”.

Having a definition of what local means is essential to a successful farm to institution program. Does local mean within state boundaries? Within 250 miles? Within the 8 counties of Western New York? Having a set standard creates boundaries that will determine the rest of the project scope – what farmers are available to work with in the radius, what current distribution networks exit within the boundary, and if there is enough local volume of a variety of products to meet the demand. Looking beyond geography is important as well. Including local impact in your definition and assessment includes the WHY. Why are we focused on local? We want to impact our local economy, including local agriculture, and business.

5. We Learned about Hyper-Local Seafood.

Being located in New England, naturally the food served at the conference included seafood. What made it interesting was having lunch with the fisherman who caught the seafood we were eating and also learning about the local fishery economy in New England specifically. The type of fish the fishermen specialize in is dogfish, which is overabundant in New England yet Americans traditionally don’t eat because of its off-putting name. As a result, the majority of dogfish gets exported to Europe, and this utilizes more resources, is less environmentally sustainable, and the fishermen don’t know who the end-consumer is. When institutions in New England purchase the dogfish in the form of a breaded fish fillet to serve in hospitals, universities, and prisons, fishermen earn a fairer portion of the dollar for their work, it is more efficient, and the fishermen know who is eating their food.

Sparking a Culture of Health on the BNMC

Sparking a Culture of Health on the BNMC

BNMC’s healthy communities team has been busy catalyzing wellness initiatives across Campus and our surrounding neighborhoods! From Spark micro-grants to workplace wellbeing and federal grants, we’re proud to be at the forefront of building a healthier city.

Our wp-contentroach includes:

Piloting new technologies:

We installed Byte in the lobby of the Innovation Center earlier in 2018 in partnership with Farmers & Artisans. They keep it stocked with fresh, wholesome, local food options available 24/7. We were able to purchse this through our Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant from the NYS Department of Health.  We have purchased two other machines, are rebranding them as FRESHTAKES, and will be installing them at the Jacobs Institute in the Gates Vascular Institute and the UBMD offices at Conventus.

Growing fresh produce when possible:

Through this same grant, we were able to get several Grow Towers to allow local organizations to grow their own fresh produce. Our Grow Tower in the Innovation Center has produced a variety of greens – gourmet lettuces, dinosaur kale, bok choy, and herbs like basil and parsley. We had a building get-together and made soup for everyone, and on harvest days have salad parties. We provided a tower to Hospice Buffalo, where they have been growing fresh produce to use in their cafeteria and patient menus. We also provided a Grow Tower to Erie Community College Downtown Campus for their culinary program, which supports healthier ingredients on their menu for staff, students, and the general public.

Providing Spark funding:

Through the BNMC Spark microgrant program, we provided funding for 17 different local projects, several of which involved increasing access to fresh food for our local neighborhoods. The Moot Center, a longtime partner of the BNMC, was able to build a pergola to finish off its raised garden beds that our team helped them build in 2017, allowing seniors to garden in the shade, and  providing covered space for their weekly farmer’s market and events. We also supported Fresh Fix, a local CSA that has a buy one, give one wp-contentroach.

Promoting healthy eating options on and around Campus:

We debuted our Food Map this year and quickly ran out! This guide showcases places within a few minute walk from institutions on the BNMC and encourages employees to get out and get moving on their breaks. We are currently updating and reprinting, so please let us know if you see something missing.

Seeking grant funding to support projects:

We recently launched a three-year, $351K project with support from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program to create a model for health care institutions to integrate technology and cultivate a culture of healthy food practices to increase local food procurement. We will be moving into the public phase of this effort in 2019, so stay tuned for more! This implementation grant was a follow-on to a $25,000 planning grant we received two years ago through the same program to increase healthy food in health care.

Collaborating to eliminate disparities in food access:

Under the lead of the Mobile Safety-Net Team, we are part of a collaborative coalition of local organizations, store owners, and community members to address urban food deserts. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative aims to bring fresh fruits and vegetables, taste tests, and nutrition education, to convenience stores throughout the city to engage residents in a healthy lifestyle.

This is just a brief snapshot at some of the work the BNMC team is doing to create a culture of health and wellbeing in our community. Learn more at bnmc-old.local/health.

Tobacco-Free BNMC

A reminder that the entire Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is tobacco-free. As a Medical Campus, the health and safety of our patients, visitors, and employees is our top priority. Please help us to build a culture of health here and don’t make our visitors and employees breathe second-hand smoke. Need help quitting? Contact the NYS Smokers’ Quitline today.

Worksite Wellness: Beth Machnica takes on role of Buffalo’s healthy company advocate

Worksite Wellness: Beth Machnica takes on role of Buffalo’s healthy company advocate

By  – Copy Editor, Buffalo Business First

Worksite wellness is a hot topic and here’s why: For every $1 a company spends on a comprehensive wellness program, $8 can be saved in health care costs by lowering medication usage, surgeries or preventing illness and disease over five years.

That’s a solid return on investment, said Beth Machnica, healthy communities catalyst for Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc.

She’s leading the charge to see the region gain “company health champions” of all sizes and in every industry. And she’s doing it through the Buffalo Healthy Workplace Initiative, led by BNMC and funded by a five-year grant from the state Department of Health.

It’s linked to a public health effort titled “Creating Healthy Schools and Communities,” whose goal is to reduce major risk factors of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

“The Buffalo Healthy Workplace Initiative is a platform for collectively transforming workplaces into environments of health promotion, one step at a time,” Machnica said.

She is tasked with bringing together diverse employers to learn from each other, develop best practices and improve their focus on creating a healthier workplace.

Indeed, a company’s overall environment and culture influence the health of people who work there, she said, from such things as air quality to the type of lighting, infrastructure that supports physical activity and access to healthy food in vending machines and cafeterias. It’s also important to address social, emotional and mental health components.

“Through this initiative, BNMC makes recommendations for how workplaces can improve after an initial benchmarking exercise on these components,” she said.

Hwp-contenty and healthy employees are more productive, and offering a strong wellness program “is a huge competitive advantage that many are beginning to realize,” she said.

Have local businesses stepped up to the plate on this? Although Buffalo is home to the chicken wing, there is great momentum among local employers and insurers in being places of health. Some worksites have been at it for quite some time. They have state-of-the-art gyms, showers, walking treadmills, free healthy lunch and snacks, personal training, chair massage, stress management and financial wellness classes. Other local companies are just getting their feet wet in the space.

How can you help? BNMC has varying levels of resources, technical assistance, infrastructure and equipment to provide organizations at any level of wellness to expand and/or improve their current programs.

Can companies learn from each other and share ideas? We help companies learn from each other and share ideas through our work council model. Each month we bring together representatives from each of the organizations involved. Most times we meet at the Innovation Center on the medical campus and focus on a certain topic, such as Social Determinants of Health, Cross Generational Differences, or Active Transportation in relation to a wellness program. Sometimes we meet at other worksites to get a tour of their facilities and get a presentation of their wellness program. The majority of participants have reported in our annual survey the biggest benefit from attending these meetings other than the content is the opportunity to network.

What drives you to make difference? I am passionate about the work I do. I feel strongly about preventive health; I want to prevent chronic disease in the population as a whole more so than I want to work with individuals. Our health care system is so focused on treating sick people. I think we need to focus more on prevention altogether. And in order to do that, changes in our environment and changes at the systems level are needed, which can make a larger impact than treating people individually and putting Band Aids on things. For me, the workplace wellness space is a perfect fit to address preventive health in the population at the systems level.

What’s the bottom line? Organizations must be strategic in offering a strong wellness program that is relevant to the unique needs of their population and invest in their employees’ health. It takes time to change a habit, behavior, lifestyle and overall a workplace culture. The return, monetary or otherwise, will come with time.

What makes the timing right for this initiative? Health and wellness is trendy right now in general. With healthy food spots opening up and free yoga everywhere, Buffalo is becoming a landscape for health and well-being. Employers are catching on to this and expanding the variety of diversity of wellness offerings as a result.

Buffalo Chosen as Model City to Host Healthy Community Convening

Buffalo Chosen as Model City to Host Healthy Community Convening

In 2015, the BNMC received a five-year Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant from the NYS Department of Health to create healthier workplaces and increases access to healthy affordable foods in underserved communities in the city of Buffalo. This year we are pleased to be hosting the annual conference for our fellow grantees in Buffalo.

Chosen for its many healthy living initiatives, Buffalo, NY will hold the third annual convening of the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) grantees, hosted by the New York Obesity Prevention Center for Excellence (OPCE). For the past three years, 25 CHSC grantees and their partners have been working with schools, businesses, government, and other groups to ensure places throughout New York State provide access to healthy foods and beverages and opportunities for physical activity.

Convening attendees will have the opportunity to experience Buffalo’s bike and car shares, visit an urban farm, learn firsthand about Buffalo Public School’s (BPS) wellness efforts, and go to several healthy workplaces such as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). As a CHSC partner, BNMC will showcase its demonstration sites for healthy workplaces, including healthy subsidized vending, Farm to Work programs, treadmill and standing desks, and onsite fitness facility equipped with locker rooms and showers.

The BNMC has also been involved in Buffalo’s healthy corner store initiative, a collaborative coalition of representatives from various organizations working to increase healthy food retail throughout the city, as well as the BPS wellness policy and its Farm-to-School efforts

Healthy Victory: Highlighting our Collaborative Partnership with the Foundry, GroundWork Market Garden, African Heritage Food Co-Op, and YouthBuild of the Service Collaborative of WNY

Healthy Victory: Highlighting our Collaborative Partnership with the Foundry, GroundWork Market Garden, African Heritage Food Co-Op, and YouthBuild of the Service Collaborative of WNY

As year three of BNMC’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) grant from New York State Department of Health comes to a close this September, the Healthy Communities team celebrates this past year’s successes.

Over the past year, our group has collectively worked on a project that not only increases access to healthy affordable foods for residents in East Buffalo, but does so through a community-driven wp-contentroach that builds neighborhood capacity and social capital.

Identifying the Problem

In BNMC’s work as part of the CHSC grant to increase healthy food access in communities throughout the city of Buffalo, it was wp-contentarent both food consumers and producers in East Buffalo face significant challenges. Residents experience a complex environment of societal, social, and health disparities that are especially amplified among people of color, all while residing in neighborhoods largely void of easily accessible grocery stores with affordable fresh foods. These conditions existed in the context of a food environment where some urban farmers struggled to connect with nearby neighbors, establish a farm stand, and find efficient models for transporting their harvests, on top of all the other challenges farmers already face.

Developing a Solution

BNMC identified a collaborative opportunity to merge both consumer and producer needs: The Farm Stand Project. The Farm Stand Project brings together GroundWork Market Garden, African Heritage Food Co-Op, The Foundry, YouthBuild, and BNMC to build mobile farm stands that bring locally grown fresh foods to residents who need it most.

By partnering with The Foundry and YouthBuild, the farm stands for GroundWork Market Garden and African Heritage Food Co-op were designed and built by community members who come from the neighborhoods the stands will serve. Every Friday morning from 9am-12pm from January 2018 through July 2018, the youth met at The Foundry and worked with professional carpenters and welders to build the farm stands. While the stands are currently undergoing finishing touches, the team aims to start using them as soon as possible for the current 2018 growing season.

The BNMC Healthy Communities Team has two more years (until September 2020) to continue its CHSC work supporting healthier communities throughout the city of Buffalo.

About The Foundry

The Foundry is a nonprofit small business incubator in East Buffalo that includes a makerspace, woodshop, metal shop, tech lab, textile lab, and also offers classes to the public. In addition to their daily operation, they also partner with the Service Collaborative of WNY’s YouthBuild program, which provides at-risk or low-income youth the opportunity to complete their education, earn their GED, and learn in-demand job skills while taking part in community revitalization projects.

Summer Events on the BNMC

Summer Events on the BNMC

Summertime offers a great opportunity to get active and engaged on the BNMC! With a new event or activity every week, there’s no shortage of fun and healthy things to do on Campus. Our schedule boasts many of our longtime signature events like Tunes in the Tent, Walking on Wednesdays, and our Annual BNMC Fit Wellness Fair, plus several NEW offerings, including morning & evening yoga, bike breakfasts for our active commuters, and Medical Campus Monday walking tours.

Whether you’re into the local music scene, an active bike advocate, or a mall-walker looking for a change of pace — we promise, there’s something for everyone to be part of and enjoy!

Check out our schedule below and be sure to register where you see links. 


June 6: Tunes in the Tent with Colored Musicians Club | 12-1 p.m. | Ellicott Park, Ellicott & Virginia Sts.
June 11: Medical Campus Monday Walking Tour | 4:30-5:30 p.m. | Meet at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St.
June 13: Morning Yoga | 7:30-8:30 a.m. | Corner of Washington & Carlton Sts.
June 20: Walks on Wednesdays led by Dr. Roseanne Berger, UB Jacobs School of Medicine | 12-1 p.m. | Meet at Main & Allen Sts.
June 27: BNMC Fit Employee Wellness Fair | 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. | Wyndham Garden Buffalo, 125 High St.
Yoga EVERY Tuesday after work | 5:15-6:15 p.m. | Washington & Carlton Streets


July 9: Medical Campus Monday Walking Tour | 4:30-5:30 p.m. | Meet at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St.
July 11: Morning Yoga | 7:30-8:30 a.m. | Corner of Washington & Carlton Sts.
July 11: Tunes in the Tent with Live DJ | 12-1 p.m. | Ellicott Park, Ellicott & Virginia Sts.
July 18: Walks on Wednesdays led by Shirley Johnson, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center | 12-1 p.m. | Meet at Roswell’s Kaminski Park, Elm & Carlton Sts.
July 25: GO BNMC Bike Breakfast | 8-9:30 a.m. | Ellicott Park, Ellicott & Virginia Sts.
Yoga EVERY Tuesday after work | 5:15-6:15 p.m. | Washington & Carlton Streets


August 1: Tunes in the Tent with Ellen Pieroni Quartet | 12-1 p.m. | Lawn @ Washington & Carlton Streets
August 6: Medical Campus Monday Walking Tour | 4:30-5:30 p.m. | Meet at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St.
August 8: Morning Yoga | 7:30-8:30 a.m. | Corner of Washington & Carlton Sts.
August 8: BNMC Summer Block Party! | 4:30-7:30 p.m. | Roswell’s Kaminski Park & Gardens
August 15: Walks on Wednesdays led by Lisa Schmidt, COO, Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute/Oishei Children’s Hospital | 12-1 p.m. | Meet at Colby Park, next to MiGO parking garage at 134 High St.
August 22: GO BNMC Bike Breakfast | 8-9:30 a.m. | Ellicott Park, Ellicott & Virginia Sts.
Yoga EVERY Tuesday after work | 5:15-6:15 p.m. | Washington & Carlton Streets

 Nearby Farmers’ Markets

  • Roswell’s Market at the Park, Kaminski Park & Gardens, Elm. & Carlton St. | Wednesdays from 1am-1pm
  • Moot Community Center at 292 High Street | Thursdays from 10am-12pm  (5 minute walk from Buffalo General Medical Center, Oishei Children’s Hospital, Gates Vascular Institute and Roswell Park)
  • Downtown Country Market on Main St. between Court & Church Streets | Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10am-2:30pm
  • Salvation Army at 960 Main St. | Tuesdays from 11am-1pm



Employees Invited to Share Commuting Story!

Do you carpool with a friend, take the subway or bus to work? Do you walk, bike, or run here? We want to hear your commuting story! There are a thousand ways to get to the BNMC—what’s your mode?
Email us at gobnmc@bnmc-old.local with the following information for a chance to be featured in our upcoming transportation campaign.

  • Name
  • Employer
  • Mode of transport
  • Sentence or two on why you love your commute!

Thanks for sharing your story with us! We’ll be in touch soon.

Give Transit a Try For Free!

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is offering employees who work on the Medical Campus the chance to try transit for free, either using the bus or train to get to work during the month of November, December, or January. With two train stations and multiple bus routes directly serving the Medical Campus, transit is a great way to get to work.

If you are interested in giving transit a try, please fill out this short survey. Eligible participants must work on the Medical Campus and not use public transportation as their primary commute mode. They must also put their parking pass on hold for the month in which they choose to try transit. Passes may be picked up at the front desk of the Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott Street between 8 am to 8 pm.

Already a GoBNMC member? We want to thank you for being awesome! Starting in November, we’ll be raffling off four $50 gift certificates every month until January to local businesses in our surrounding community. Register now for a chance to win!

If you are new to public transit, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.The NFTA’s website is useful for schedule information.

Hospital food that’s fresh from the farm

Hospital food that’s fresh from the farm

Much of the fresh produce is grown in Eden Valley and on other farms across Buffalo Niagara and Ontario.

It’s a similar scene at other area medical facilities – from Kaleida Health’s Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to Buffalo General Medical Center and HighPointe on Michigan Avenue. Lettuce and corn are delivered to Catholic Health hospitals, where a rooftop garden at Kenmore Mercy Hospital provides grape tomatoes, herbs and edible nasturtiums.

Hospitals have long focused on preparing and serving healthier food to patients. What’s new is the uptick in homegrown, locally sourced produce – akin to the “Farm to Table” push in schools and restaurants.

And it’s been a particular focus on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where the nonprofit that coordinates hospitals and other organizations on campus launched a “Farm to Hospital” initiative to explore how to bring more fresh produce into campus health care facilities.

“It’s certainly an industry trend that is growing,” said Christina Dibble, Roswell Park director of food and nutrition services. “I think that the program is only going to grow and become more robust. This is what people are looking for. There is a focus on the food being healthier, a focus of supporting your local vendors.”

The “Farm to Hospital” push to make fresh, local and sustainable food a focus at facilities on the Medical Campus is in its infancy. But momentum is building.

Driver Paul Wisniewski, of Boulevard Produce, delivers boxes of produce at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

At Roswell Park, menu offerings at the cancer center’s Sunflower Cafe and cafeteria have integrated more fresh vegetables and fruit. Ratatouille earned itself a spot on the cafeteria menu recently, and homegrown asparagus was an early summer constant.

“We thought this was a perfect opportunity to bring this to the Medical Campus. We thought hospitals would be the next logical step,” said Jonathan McNeice, director of healthy communities for Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. “I think it’s encouraging that Buffalo is being a leader on this. We’re excited this is taking root in Buffalo.”

The timing is ripe in the health care arena, but many say it will take time to implement it on a broad scale on a campus where facilities have varying means of buying food.

As a one-year, $25,000 U.S. Food & Drug Administration planning grant winds down, BNMC Inc. hopes to secure a $350,000 grant that would substantially boost the initiative. The money would be used to help hospitals add training and new equipment, as well as to tap national experts to help the initiative campuswide.

“We don’t expect this to be a quick transformation. We came into this not looking for quick wins,” McNeice said of the effort that began in 2015.

‘Embedded in our culture’

If BNMC receives the grant, McNeice said it would be “full speed ahead.” “We’re all in this together, trying to figure it out,” McNeice said.
Organizations on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus have been closely watching the University of Vermont Medical Center.

In Burlington, Vt., the university’s medical center is a model of sustainable health care food service in the country. Its decadelong effort won it acclaim in the “Oscars” of food service with the 2016 Silver Plate Award from the International Food Service Manufacturers’ Association.

With six eating facilities in its complex, it was recognized for top health care food service in the United States.

“It’s embedded in our culture,” said Diane Imrie, UVM Medical Center’s director of nutritional services. “We’ve just changed our culture in that sustainability is a decision point in anything we do, and we have a very strong farm partnership network.”

Fried foods no longer are served. Patients order what they want, when they want. The center’s Harvest Cafe for visitors and workers serves fresh, organic items, as well as local beef, chicken and turkey that is mostly raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics.

“We still use some frozen corn and peas, but it was grown locally,” Imrie said. “It’s our commitment to our community. You could be an employee today, and a patient, tomorrow.”

A garden atrium that serves as a healing space for patients features items from suppliers to UVM’s sustainable food program. The atrium has direct access to the hospital’s rooftop garden, where raised garden beds feature fruit trees and herbs. Produce from the rooftop garden is used in recipes served at the cafe.

Roswell Park’s Dibble was impressed when she toured the University of Vermont Medical Center last fall with a team from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. “We definitely walked away re-energized,” Dibble said.

Imrie chatted with the Buffalo contingent on the rooftop garden.

“A program like this does not hwp-contenten overnight,” Imrie said. “It just takes some passion, and some focus and some commitment. And celebrate the small successes.”

Getting to know the farmers

The biggest take-away for the Buffalo team was the direct link with farmers.

“They spoke with the farmers weekly and took staff out there every year for visits. They started taking pride in sourcing locally,” McNeice said. “It also allowed them to purchase more efficiently and at a better price point because they knew who had an extra crop at a certain time, and were just a phone call away. They were also very flexible in designing their menu, knowing if a farmer had extra of a certain crop.”
McNeice said the “University of Vermont set the bar high.”

“They weren’t 100 percent purists. … It’s all part of their culture,” he said. “They wanted their staff to get engaged and get their hands dirty in growing food. It was a great experience.”

In July, 21 percent of produce used at Roswell Park came from local farms. By summer’s end, that number is expected to hit 30 percent.

A “Chef’s Choice” daily special rotation menu recently began for inpatients.

“This is a starting point,” said Linda Leising, Roswell Park’s senior clinical dietitian. “We’re hoping to transition it to the room service menu, though it can be somewhat of a challenge to do locally grown vegetables year round. The Chef’s Choice is the ideal launch for us to use locally sourced produce.”

Added labor costs

The effort is not without challenges. Patients have dietary restrictions. Fresh produce can require more labor-intensive preparation and can be more costly, including the expense of additional equipment.

Dibble said the medical center has to take cleaning and prep time into its food service planning.

“Last year, we brought cases of local corn in and somebody had to husk it. In order to do that, we had to schedule somebody for a couple of hours,” Dibble said.

While bringing in fresh produce does have added expenses for equipment, staff training preparation, Dibble said “it’s been totally worth it in terms of the nutritional benefits and the positive feedback from our patients, visitors and employees.”

For instance, Dibble said, lettuce can be bought cleaned, in a bag, ready to go. If you implement all fresh lettuce, it must be washed, cut and chopped.

“We have a lot of accommodations in place, and you want the right equipment to steam that produce so you can retain the nutrients as opposed to just boiling it where all the good stuff just vapors away,” Dibble said.

Changing how medical institutions buy their produce, however, can take time to change because of procurement contracts.

It’s easier for a medical center such as Roswell Park to get started because its food service is “self-operated,” McNeice said. Other facilities contract with outside companies.

“Sodexo is very excited to work with McNeice and BNMC to drive this program so that it replicates what we do in other major markets,” said Todd Zimmerman, a health care district manager with Sodexo, with whom Kaleida contracts.

In the end, it boils down to balance, McNeice said.

“Wouldn’t it be great,” he wondered, “if neighborhoods like Allentown and Masten came to the Medical Campus to eat?”

Join Us for a GoBNMC Bike Breakfast on August 25th!

GoBNMC and GObike Buffalo are excited to host a Bike Breakfast on Friday, August 25th from 7:30-10am in the park at Ellicott & Virginia Streets for employees who work on the Medical Campus and members of our community. GObike Buffalo will be on deck to help with minor repairs to keep you riding smooth into fall. Need a bike for your commute? Try Reddy Bikeshare for free with promo code GOBNMC2017. Download the flyer and share with your friends and colleagues.

Meet Maddie: Neuroscience Major, Active Yogi & Roswell Employee

Meet Maddie: Neuroscience Major, Active Yogi & Roswell Employee

With any free wellness event on the Medical Campus, the goal for anyone who participates is to walk away healthier than they arrive, whether they are a Campus employee, patient, visitor, or member of the community. Every Wednesday during the Summer of 2017, Independent Health and the YMCA Fitness and the Parks Program hosts a free outdoor yoga class next to Buffalo General Medical Center in Colby Park. But there is something special about the instructor of this class who leads the way for campus employees and community members to get active outside – she is also a Roswell Park Cancer Institute employee. Meet Maddie.

A Western New York native, Maddie grew up in Clarence and always kept active – but not because she was a yogi. She was a cheerleader in high school and wasn’t introduced to yoga until attending her first year of college at Binghamton University in 2016. Just after taking one yoga class at BU – along with a can-do attitude and the help of an encouraging mentor – Maddie got certified in one semester.  This involved taking a 2-credit course, completing textbook readings and homework, and learning yoga poses to earn her AFAA certification for teaching group classes – all in addition to her full course load as a dual major in Neuroscience and Spanish.

To keep up her newly acquired skills, she was encouraged to find a class to teach over the summer– a challenge since she already had plans to work at Roswell full-time maintaining the landscaping throughout the Roswell campus. Despite this, Maddie had inquired about teaching at the YMCA, and she not only landed a position with them to teach three times per week, but was assigned to teach yoga for Fitness in the Parks on the Medical Campus – without the YMCA even realizing she already worked there.

Maddie loves teaching yoga “because it benefits everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities,” and especially enjoys teaching the class outdoors on the Medical Campus. “The energy is just different being outside, people come to experience the sun, birds, breeze, and company of others… its naturally peaceful, and I love to see people change from the beginning of class when they are stressed to the end being relaxed.” Maddie teaches free yoga every Wednesday from 5:30-6:30pm in Colby Park, right next to the Michigan Goodrich Parking Garage at 134 High Street. Extra yoga mats and bottled water are available.

BNMC Fit on Tuesday, June 27

Join us for BNMC Fit, our annual health & wellness fair on Tuesday, June 27 from 11:30am-1:30pm in Colby Park at Buffalo General Medical Center (next to the Michigan Goodrich parking garage at 134 High St.). More than 15 local vendors in the healthy & active living arena will be at the event, providing information, fun giveaways and opportunities to get fit. Some of the vendors committed so far include:

  • Bike MS
  • BNMC
  • Farmers & Artisans
  • Fleet Feet
  • GObike Buffalo
  • Jewish Community Center (JCC)
  • Kaleida Health
  • KeyBank
  • Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP)
  • Mental Health Association of Erie County
  • Reddy Bikeshare
  • Roswell Park Donor Center
  • Thrive Nutrition & Wellness
  • Tobacco Free WNY
  • UB Clinical & Translational Research Institute (CTSI)
  • UBMD Physicians’ Group
  • Unyts
  • Walsh Duffield
  • Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo

Health in all its forms – economic, environmental, personal –  are essential for any community to thrive. Since the BNMC began, our team has worked to promote active living and a focus on access to healthy food and BNMC Fit is a fun and festive event that brings together health leaders in our community and employees from across the Medical Campus. This event is free and open to all who work on the Campus. Rain or shine! Download flyer.

Takeaways from CleanMed Conference

Ever wonder what your doctor eats for lunch? If they were one of the 800 professionals attending the CleanMed conference in Minneapolis this year, they probably ate a locally grown organic vegan meal using biodegradable plates and utensils – without thinking twice about missing out on meat and potatoes.
This year two members of the BNMC team, Jonathan McNeice and Beth Machnica, attended the CleanMed conference to advance their efforts in the BNMC Farm To Hospital Initiative. With 1.5 million patients and visitors annually at the Medial Campus each year, and even more coming with the opening of the UB Medical School and Oshei Children’s Hospital, having healthy food options on campus is a must. But CleanMed is about more than healthy food.

If you think about it, large institutions such as hospitals in many communities are the largest provider of healthcare, purchaser of goods, and employer of the local workforce. They also are typically the largest user of chemicals. As Gary Cohen, Co-Founder and President of Healthcare Without Harm stated at the conference, “Healthcare is decreasing its impact on people by making them more sick through the environment.  If we embed environmental health into social strategy and healthcare we wouldn’t have disease tribes around the country – learning disability societies, cancer societies, diabetes societies, or constantly talking about ‘the cure,’ instead we’d be talking about prevention. “

With such power to impact the surrounding communities and environment, hospitals are critical players in taking the lead on healing people instead of polluting people. At one of the seminars the BNMC team attended, the speaker referred to “frogs on Prozac” in reference to medications going into the water system since clinical staff were trained to dispose of expired meds that way in the past. It represents the structural issues present in our current system, and is an example of the types of things that need to change. With the United States spending the greatest portion of its money on healthcare, and having the worst health outcomes of the top 50 industrialized countries in the world, we’re not very efficient when it comes to health.

The BNMC team is working on a series of sustainability initiatives on the medical campus – piloting a composting program in the Innovation Center, working on a Farm to Hospital Initiative with Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Kaleida, implementing a Community Supported Agriculture Program with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and a Farm-to-Work program at the Innovation Center. Stay tuned for additional updates on the blog!

~The 2017 Clean Med conference was the fourteenth convening held in the United States, and the eighteenth held globally. It is an annual conference put on by the nonprofits HealthCare Without Harm and Practice GreenHealth and has an international reputation for being the premier conference on environmental sustainability in the healthcare sector.~


Planning for Growth

Planning for Growth

With over $750 million of investment, three cranes in the air and 700 construction workers on the Medical Campus this past year, our growth is undeniable as we continue to build the New Buffalo! We’re celebrating these developments to our great city and are looking forward to future advancements in the years ahead.

We’ve been planning and coordinating with our member institutions for many years to accommodate the influx of patients, visitors, employees and students on our transportation system and infrastructure. As the Campus grows, our Transportation Management Association (TMA), a collaboration of the BNMC, our member institutions, and regional transportation-related entities, continually monitors, plans for, and manages parking and transportation options.

We adhere to smart growth principles as we seek to build a dense, walkable urban environment that is attractive to local employers and companies outside the region looking for a wonderful place to relocate and grow. We work with a number of stakeholders to develop better options for the people who work on this Campus, as well as patients, students, and visitors, and our overall community and region.

Here’s a brief overview of our recent transportation planning efforts:

  • We continue to enhance options for people traveling to the Medical Campus, through the NFTA Metro rail and bus, carpooling, ride-matching, pedestrian & bicycle infrastructure and communicate these options as a part of GoBNMC, our campus-wide initiative to create a more sustainable and active transportation system for employees.
  • We are increasing our on-Campus parking supply with a new garage located at 854 Ellicott St., which will double the number of parking spaces at that location and provide a connector bridge to Children’s Hospital. We are also adding nearby surface lots to our system.
  • Through GO Buffalo Niagara, a region-wide community outreach program, we continue to identify and address transportation and mobility issues in surrounding neighborhoods and to share job and transportation information with residents.
  • We’re working together with the city and state to implement multi-modal streetscape enhancements that improve Campus access, promote health and safety, and support our overall placemaking efforts.

Planning for parking and transportation has been a critical component of our work for our 15 year history. Learn more about transportation and parking plans for the Medical Campus on our website.

Medical Campus aims to be regional beacon of wellness

Medical Campus aims to be regional beacon of wellness

The Buffalo News

Almost 15 years ago, as leaders in the Western New York health field began to hatch ideas for a new medical campus in the Buffalo Fruit Belt, a tiny nonprofit designed to help nurture the effort got its first wellness grant.

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. has been working behind the scenes in the years since as cranes have come and gone on the 120-acre swath north of downtown, and the number of buildings has grown.

Its charge: Turn the Medical Campus into a model for healthy living across the region – and support similar efforts elsewhere.

“The campus is becoming more of a neighborhood than a medical community,” said Jonathan McNeice, who is helping plan the transformation. “Neighborhoods have people who want active things to do. They want access to food and healthy lifestyles. So the bigger picture is that we see the campus as a place of wellness and not just a place you come to for sick care.”

If the Medical Campus is to become a microcosm for a healthier Buffalo Niagara, its leaders must be able to answer key questions, including:

  • Can I walk or bike or take public transit to work?
  • Where can I find healthy food in the neighborhood?
  • Are there places to get some exercise?

Fueled by more than $7 million in grants – starting with a $200,000 Active Living by Design grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. (BNMC) and its like-minded partners have begun to change the campus in the following ways.


Justin Booth, left, and Thea Hassan, both of GObike Buffalo, helped get bike lane markings on Ellicott Street on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and continue to work to make the campus more bicycle friendly. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

One of the largest challenges the Medical Campus faces is that almost everybody who steps foot in the neighborhood takes a car to get there.

“I think for the revitalization of any city, you need a critical mass of people so that the transit options, the bike options, the car share options will be successful,” said McNeice, a healthy communities planner on the Medical Campus. “To be a modern urban city, you want to be multi-mobile. Maybe you want to take the subway part of the way and take your bike on the subway so that if you want to ride it the rest of the way to work, or run an errand or go to lunch, you’ve got that option.”

Work has begun to double the size of a parking ramp to 1,800 spaces behind the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, which is expected to open late this year.

Parking for patients and visitors will continue to be paramount, but the more than 12,000 people employed on the campus are encouraged to find other means to get to and from their workplaces, McNeice said. They can visit gobnmc-old.local to learn how.

“You’re looking at a dense urban core, where people want to live and want to work because it’s exciting,” said Kari Root Bonaro, BNMC communications director. “We really would like to get more employees to take transit, to walk, to bike, to live closer to campus. There’s both the healthy living aspect as well as building community.”

Reddy Bike Share plans to boost the number of rental bikes on the Medical Campus this year. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The nonprofit also is working with others on a larger effort,, to encourage alternative transportation across the region, BNMC Planning Manager Jamie Hamann-Burney said.

The organization helped secure $8.4 million in federal, state and local funding to upgrade Ellicott Street – the spine of the Medical Campus street grid – into a linear park with bike lanes, wider sidewalks, benches and improved lighting. Nearly $7 million more has been allocated for the Allen Street stretch that will connect Allentown to the UB medical school and rest of the campus. Pocket parks – BNMC staff likes to call them “parkettes” – also have been sprinkled throughout the neighborhood.

Reddy Bike Share provided more than a half dozen rental bikes on the campus last year and will return with more bikes in the spring, along with a free trial membership to encourage employees to take advantage of the service. The nonprofit BNMC, which is housed at the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center on Ellicott Street along with nearly 100 health-related startup businesses, put a shipping container in a nearby parking lot for safe, indoor bike storage.

“We’re a medical campus where we offer health care, and a great way to be healthy is by actively commuting,” McNeice said. “Part of that is having the infrastructure.”


Jonathan McNeice, left a healthy communities planner with Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., works last fall with Rosemary Wilson, a senior volunteer, in the garden at The Moot Community Center in the Fruit Belt. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

The Moot Community Center sits five blocks east of Buffalo General Medical Center. It participates in a countywide Stay Fit Dining Program but that doesn’t serve all the nutritional needs of seniors in the Fruit Belt, many of whom have limited financial means, transportation and access to healthy foods. Four of every five seniors who use the High Street center have Type 2 diabetes, said Daysi Ball, its assistant director of development and senior services.

“We get the breads, the desserts, all of the wonderful stuff that we love to eat but aren’t necessarily the most healthy, or the best for our seniors,” Ball said. “We wp-contentreciate everything – it’s very helpful – but we wanted to figure out ways to get more fresh foods and vegetables here.”

So the community center’s leaders – with help from McNeice, Grassroots Gardens, the Massachusetts Avenue Project and the Mulberry Street and Friends Block Club – decided last year to start a community garden and host a weekly farm market at Moot.

The efforts are part of a larger strategy to bring healthier food options to those who will live, work and visit the Medical Campus and surrounding communities in years to come.

McNeice – who grew up in Canada and whose family owned the Lakeside Marketeria in Oakville, Ont. – is the point person in the effort to more meaningfully connect the campus with farmers in the region.

“I got to see the industry changing” in 1990s, when supermarket and hardware chains drove many mom and pop shops out of business, and often bypassed small local suppliers, he said.

McNeice, 38, first came to Buffalo to get his master’s degree in urban planning. He left to work on food policy and wellness planning in Toronto and Edmonton before returning to the city three years ago. While at UB, he worked in the university’s Food Lab, the key player in efforts that have begun to bear fruit on the Medical Campus when it comes to helping forge stronger bonds between hospitals, schools, retailers, community centers and farmers.

“We were fortunate to get Jonathan to come and bring a totally different perspective,” said Matthew Enstice, president and CEO of the BNMC.

Medical Campus planner Jonathan McNeice has worked in Toronto, Edmonton and Buffalo. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)









McNeice and others are at work on a Healthy Corner Store Initiative that looks to bring fresh produce into convenience stores not only on the campus but in neighborhoods across the city where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited.

Farmers’ markets have been established at the Salvation Army branch and Buffalo Place along the ring of campus, as well as the Moot Center. The BNMC also worked with Farmers & Artisans last year to set up a “farm-to-work table” that offered regional goods on Wednesdays at the Innovation Center.

The resurgent and growing “farm-to-table” attitude in the region helped spur six community gardens on the Medical Campus, including two fostered by Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc.

Ball is among those who have seen the planning pay dividends.

Grassroots Gardens worked with Moot Center staff and volunteers to clear a patch of land off the back parking lot last spring, plant a strawberry patch and fill nine raised garden beds with vegetables that included heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, squash, kale, cucumbers “and all sorts of peppers,” Ball said. “It really was wonderful. We were not only able to harvest the vegetables here at the center – for use in our kitchen to supplement the lunches – we also were able to distribute the harvest to the seniors.”

Some seniors canned collard greens and Swiss chard, Ball said, and “there were a number of opportunities for them to learn more about the foods and how to incorporate them into their diets.

“Historically, we’ve been more of a social center where you come for social activities,” she said. “The seniors wanted health-related, tangible outcomes. We wanted to provide more preventative programs. We’ve done that.”


Attendance at yoga classes in the Innovation Center have been strong, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus officials say. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

David Longhini took his first yoga class on the Medical Campus in January, two days after he started a new job with BlueWolf, a medical sales force consulting company in the dig, or Design Innovation Garage, inside the Innovation Center on Ellicott Street.

“I was definitely down for it,” said Longhini, 24, a Dansville native who lives in the Elmwood Village. “I love everything about what’s hwp-contentening here. One of the top reasons I took the job – I left Rich Products – was to be closer to downtown, the dig and the Medical Campus. It’s very important for me to see this area thrive.”

On the fitness front, the BNMC supported a “100 Days of Summer” last year that brought the Independent Health Fitness in the Parks program onto campus for the first time. It helped throw a fitness festival last June. And the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo led a weekly Walking on Wednesday sojourn starting and ending outside Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The nonprofit also has been a consistent supporter of the Buffalo Green Code, advocating for more bike lanes across Buffalo, including on the Medical Campus.

McNeice, Hamann-Burney and others have worked with GObike Buffalo as they have eyed future transportation in the neighborhood and beyond, and both nonprofits recently were among the organizations to receive a five-year, $250,000 Creating Healthy Schools & Communities grant from the state Department of Health. Among other projects, the grant will provide Healthy Workplace assessments and programming support for businesses on and off the campus.

“Broadly speaking, active living is very important,” McNeice said.

That becomes even more true, he said, on a medical campus that aspires to lead by example.

“Neighbors and communities go up and down with the times but anchor institutions can withstand that,” McNeice said. “Largely, the role we play is that steady force behind the scenes. We’re looking for gaps in how we bring things together.”

Part of the job is asking, “What if?” “How do we help improve our community?”

“What if a medical campus was a place of wellness? What does that look like?” McNeice said. “Maybe it’s a place where you’re not just coming when you’re sick but you go there to get physically active, get fit, learn to cook from scratch. That’s where our head is at going forward.”


Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

BNMC Launches New GO BNMC Website

Get Going in 2017 with GO BNMC

With 2017 upon us, the BNMC is rolling out several exciting tools with employees in mind. The front of these changes is a new GO BNMC website where employees who work on the Medical Campus can learn more about our program that encourages smart and healthy commuting options; get introduced to the carshare and rideshare options and discounts available; and sign up for your parking pass with ease. Let’s celebrate a healthy lifestyle this year, starting with taking a deeper dive into all that the GO BNMC program has to offer!

Local Chefs Compete to Create Healthy School Lunches for Buffalo Farm to School Initiative


Contact: Susan Kirkpatrick



Local Chefs Compete to Create Healthy School Lunches for Buffalo Farm to School Initiative

Buffalo Bill Thurman Thomas, along with student, chef, farmer and administrator representatives to judge offerings


What: The first-ever Buffalo Farm to School Chef Challenge, a competition to develop new menu ideas for the Buffalo Public School’s Harvest of the Month initiative that introduces and encourages healthy food choices for students.

Local chefs from some of Buffalo’s favorite restaurants and a team of Buffalo Public School students will compete to develop recipes for student lunches that conform to USDA standards and that incorporate local, seasonal food. Participating students have trained with Chef Bobby Anderson, Executive Director of F Bites, a program, which uses culinary instruction as a vehicle to develop leadership, professional skills, college and career readiness. Winning recipes will be highlighted on the December school menu in participating Buffalo Public Schools. Preparation, judging and sampling will be included in the event.

Admission is free and open to parents, staff, students of Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) and some limited public tickets for non-BPS community members. Non-BPS families and community should reserve tickets at:

Special thanks to the American Dairy Association North East for partnering with the Buffalo Farm to School program on this event.


When: Tuesday, October 4 at 4 PM.


Where: Southside Elementary School at 430 Southside Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14210.


Who: Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5 will act as Master of Ceremonies and Brian Higgins, U.S. Representative will make short remarks regarding the impact of the Farm to School Program.

 Participating Chefs include:

  • Bobby Anderson of F Bites
  • Clyde Chaplin, Owner of the Wecken Wagen, a German culinary experience; and Baker at The Fire Spot
  • Jim Guarino of Oshun and Shango
  • Ross Warhol of Oliver’s

Recipes will be prepared on site and judged by a panel including:

  • Thurman Thomas, former running back for the Buffalo Bills, advocate for healthy eating and breakfast in the classroom!
  • Chef Steven Binks, entrepreneur and “Buffalo’s celebrity Chef”
  • Caleb Graham, senior at PS #198 International Prep High School, HYPE member, and Buffalo and Erie County Food Policy Council member
  • Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold, President and At-Large-Member of the Buffalo Board of Education
  • Daniel Oles, farmer from Promised Land CSA and Oles Family Farm
  • Yourlisa Stinson, BPS Food Service Pre-Pack Leader at Early Childhood Center #82


About: The Chef Challenge is part of Buffalo Farm to School, a pilot program for 12 Buffalo Public Schools that have introduced locally grown, seasonal produce to school lunch menus. The program highlights seasonal offerings, encourages student trial and asks for feedback. The Buffalo Farm to School program’s goals are to introduce more fresh, locally grown produce in school lunches and to encourage healthy eating habits in students.

Buffalo Farm to School is an initiative of the Buffalo Public Schools Food Services Department, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC), Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, Grassroots Gardens of WNY and the Massachusetts Avenue Project. For more information go to