Buffalo State College graphic and wood/furniture design students recently contributed to the locally based Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI) that promotes healthful eating in underserved communities.
Darren Cotton, founder and principal designer of Dügüd Design, and Sheila Bass, HCSI coordinator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, contacted faculty members within Buffalo State’s Art and Design Department last fall. They were looking for creative help to transform one participating corner store, Lucky’s Food Market, located at 729 Sycamore Street on Buffalo’s East Side, into a “healthy hub.”
“The idea was to create a space that could be used to promote nutrition information and feature healthy options available to purchase in the store,” said Cotton, who has created design and marketing materials for the initiative.
“Our initiative offers a multilevel approach to promote, engage, and empower communities to make healthier choices.”
— Sheila Bass, HCSI coordinator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County
HCSI is a collaborative partnership that grew out of a community report presented by the John R. Oishei Foundation’s Mobile Safety Net Team revealing a lack of access to fresh, healthful food in some parts of the city. Through the initiative, public, private, and nonprofit partners have been providing HCSI stores and communities with access to farm-to-store relationships, in-store programming, customer engagement, and small-business support.
“Our initiative offers a multilevel approach to promote, engage, and empower communities to make healthier choices,” Bass said. “And through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Western New York Blue Fund, we were able to address the importance of store perception through the Refresh Fund, which has made a direct impact.”
Last fall, six students in the furniture design courses DES 351 and DES 451 taught by Sunhwa Kim, associate professor of art and design, created a prototype and built two custom tables and four chairs with built-in literature racks. They were installed at Lucky’s in May.
Meanwhile, 17 students in associate professor Stan Friesen’s DES 377 Computer Graphics 2 course developed ideas for a wall mural promoting the importance of eating nutritious food.
Each student came up with a design, and the store owner chose to use the one made by graphic design major Jennifer Lay. That wall mural, printed on vinyl, was recently installed.
“The store owner has been a proactive supporter of HCSI and was absolutely thrilled by the finished products,” Bass said.
Kim said the project was a great experience for all students involved.
“The students helped each other and collaborated on the pieces,” she said. “And I was happy to support the community and see the mural and furniture work beautifully together at the end.”