A volunteer in our food
juice on our shelves.
Here, Anita and a volunteer,
unpack and count a generous
donation of fresh produce.
The Food Pantry at the Watertown Urban Mission is the busiest in
Jefferson County, serving more than 500 families per month a five-day
supply of food. More than 200 people each month are served by our pantry
for the very first time.
Our Food Pantry
is supported by the generosity of our member churches, individuals like
you, and local businesses, all of which provide us with surplus food,
nonperishable items, and financial support. We also work closely with
the Food Bank of Central New York to obtain food through the USDA and
make economical bulk purchases. It is through the generosity of our
community that we are able to serve about 300,000 meals annually.
We are the
primary food pantry for our neighbors in the greater Watertown area and
work closely with food pantries throughout the county to share resources
and refer individuals in need.
What can I donate and how?
We accept canned goods, cereals, other
non-perishables and even fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden.
We accept donations during the week, typically from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (4
p.m. in July & August) and Food Pantry hours are from 9:00 a.m. to
and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Many of our member churches accept donations
of nonperishable foods and personal hygiene supplies and deliver them to
us. Contact your church office to find our more.
If you have a restaurant or food supply store,
we also accept good faith donations of surplus food, as defined and
protected by New York State law. Just call Anita, our Food Pantry
Coordinator, at 782-8440.
Of course, if you can’t find the time to shop
and deliver foods, remember that every dollar we spend at the Food Bank
of Central New York can leverage more food than a dollar spent at the
local grocery store. Sometimes we can get 5, 10, even 15 times the food
for every dollar compared to the grocery. So it’s always great to
receive your tax deductable monetary donations for the Food Pantry.
Will the Food Pantry help me?
We try to help everyone who comes to us in
need. When you come in, you will be asked to be part of a simple process
that starts by taking a number at our reception desk and taking a seat
in our waiting room. Then one of our intake volunteers will call your
number and sit with you in a private cubicle to discuss your situation.
You will be asked to supply some proof of
where you live, photo identification, and provide the names and
birthdates of everyone in your household. You will then be asked to sign
the intake form, certifying that the information you provided is true
and you meet the income eligibility requirements, which are to be within
185 percent of the poverty level. Also, if you do not live in our
coverage area, we will do what we can in accordance with Food Bank of
Central New York rules and refer you to your local pantry for
convenience and to save you the expense of gas.
Once that paperwork is done, you will be asked
to sit in the waiting room again until your number is called. One of our
volunteers will come out to take you through the pantry where you’ll
select your items within the guidelines of the USDA’s nutritional
recommendations. After that, there’s always extras donated from generous
businesses and individuals in our community that will make your
experience even better.
To reduce waste and improve your experience by
giving you a say in what you bring home, we use a “shopping method” that
lets you walk our aisles and pick out what you like within each food
group. Of course, we do require compliance with USDA guidelines, but
with the generosity of so many throughout the community we offer a great
Each household receives food based on a
five-day supply for the number of people living together, limited to
once every 30 days. Because of our relationship with the Food Bank,
which maximizes the impact of each dollar we spend on food, we adhere to
many best practices and guidelines provided by the Food Bank in the
operation of our Food Pantry.
Our eligibility requirements are based on
rules and regulations of the Food Bank of Central New York and are
necessary to comply with New York State regulations. However, we do all
that we can to make sure anyone who comes to us in need is served to the
best of our abilities.
of Food Pantries Throughout the County
Anita Cuilo, Food
John McConnell, Food Pantry