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Code Blue 2023-2024 Summary: A Life Saving Initiative For The Unhoused

Hearts for the Homeless® is part of the Buffalo Code Blue Collaborative where we work together with other local agencies to provide evening meals for those who seek shelter during the cold winter nights. Over the last few years our partnership has grown from providing a limited number of meals to providing meals every Code Blue night. Our goal is to make sure that the homeless community and those in need who seek shelter during the freezing temperatures have a hot meal.

Code Blue is a lifesaving operation that provides shelter, food and supportive services to approximately 150 individuals living on the streets of Buffalo each night that the wind chill temperatures reach 32 degrees or below. Code Blue is the City of Buffalo’s emergency weather safety plan that provides outreach, transportation, shelter and a warm meal to anyone seeking emergency shelter from November 15th to April 30th.

This year’s Code Blue Shelters were located at: 586 Genesee Street, Buffalo 14204 and a secondary location at Salvation Army, 950 Main Street, Buffalo 14202. On a daily basis Code Blue is determined based on the National Weather Service forecast for Buffalo and is communicated by 211 of Western New York through a text message system and on the Code Blue Collaborative’s Facebook Page. Code Blue is meant to serve not only homeless individuals, but anyone in need. By assisting Code Blue shelters in our community, we hope to eliminate weather related deaths of individuals who are unhoused.

Our assistance in feeding individuals who are unhoused is needed year after year as the winters in Western New York don’t come without challenges. On Thursday, January 11, 2024 before the snowstorm hit our region, Hearts’ staff delivered meals to the shelters for that night and enough meals to also help get the shelters through the weekend. By Sunday afternoon on January 14th, Hearts’ staff member, Stacey, received a call at home from the coordinator of the Code Blue Collaborative stating that the day-time warming shelter did not have enough food for people who stayed the previous night. With everyone snowed in from the weekend storm and driving bans still in effect, the coordinator of the Code Blue Collaborative contacted the Chief of Buffalo’s Fire Department who then reached out to Stacey to provide a way to meet the emergency need. 

Click here to read more from our February Newsletter, “Sustaining Hope: Compassion For Feeding Those In Need”.

The City of Buffalo had asked Code Blue shelters to remain open Friday, April 5th through Monday, April 8th due to the solar eclipse regardless of the weather. For Hearts, this meant more meals being cooked and delivered to the Code Blue shelters.

During the 2023-2024 Code Blue season, running from November through April, Hearts for the Homeless® provided 15,900 meals directly to the shelters. We are thankful to have participated in this way this season and look forward to joining forces again with the other agencies who dedicated time, talents, and resources to keep the City of Buffalo safe and warm.

Thank you for those who donated to keep plates full at the shelters this season and to our volunteers who went above and beyond to prepare the delicious meals that were enjoyed by many. If you would like to get involved in providing meals to those in need during this season, please consider making a donation at: https://heartsforthehomeless.org/donate/