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Food Pantry

Dave Stoodley and Bruce Irwin


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 in those families 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 provide groceries for 250,000 to more than 300,000 meals annually.

We are the primary food pantry for our neighbors in the greater Watertown area, including on post at Fort Drum, and work closely with food pantries throughout the county to share resources and refer individuals in need.

Your Mission’s Food Pantry hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Food Pantry will be closed in the afternoon every fourth Thursday from 1 - 3 p.m. to support the Food Sense order distribution.

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 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (4 p.m. in July & August). Donations can also be dropped off at the Impossible Dream Thrift Store outside of these hours, Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 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. On average, most pantries can get $10-$20 worth of food for every dollar spent at the Food Bank, but your Mission’s mindful stewardship has produced record numbers of $38 and $70 worth of food for every dollar spent at the Food Bank in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively.

Both types of donations are a huge benefit, and both are tax deductible!

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, such as an official piece of mail with your name on it at your address. Also, we will require photo identification from the individual who asks for the pantry's help with just the names and birthdates of everyone else in their 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 to serve you in accordance with Food Bank of Central New York rules and then refer you to your local pantry for your 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 help ensure your dignity while receiving food for your 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 selection.

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.

In the Mission: Possible Capital Campaign, the contribution of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, the charitable wing of the parent company of New York Airbrake, has been recognized in the naming of the Food Pantry.

Donna White
Donna White, Food Pantry Coordinator

Eddie Clark, Food Programs Assistant

Matthew 25:35-36: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

© Copyright 2010 Watertown Urban Mission
247 Factory Street Watertown, NY 13601
Mission Phone: (315) 782-8440 Fax: (315) 782-8441 Thrift Store Phone: (315) 782-0090
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