Food Pantry

The Food Pantry

The Food Pantry at your Watertown Urban Mission is the busiest in Jefferson County, serving more than 450 families per month a five-day supply of food with more than 200 people on average in those families who 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 whom provide us with surplus food, perishable and nonperishable items, and financial support.  Recently Chapin Living Waters and Cornell Cooperative Extension collaborated to produce a community garden, a unique initiative that benefits the Food Pantry by providing individuals in need with fresh vegetables.  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 around 250,000 meals annually.

We are the primary food pantry for our neighbors in the greater Watertown area, including the Fort Drum community, 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 is closed in the afternoon every fourth Thursday from 1 p.m. to 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 business week, typically from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (4 p.m. in July and August).  Donations can also be dropped off at the Impossible Dream Thrift Store on Sundays from 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 out 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 our Food Programs Director or Assistant 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 food pantries can get $10 - $20 worth of food for every dollar spend at the Food Bank, but your Mission's mindful stewardship has produced record number os $38 and $70 worth of food for every dollar spent at the Food Bank in 2013 - 2014 and 2014 - 2015, respectively.

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

Will the Food Pantry Help Me?

Our Food Pantry serves residents of the City of Watertown School District, Fort Drum base, and a few small niches within Jefferson Country that are not otherwise covered by another food pantry.  For those who live outside of our service area, we may be able to assist your once, and we will refer you to your local pantry for future assistance.

How Does the Process Work?

When you come in, you will be asked to be a part of a simple process that starts by taking a number at our reception desk and taking a seat in our waiting room.  Then on of the 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 proof of where you live, such as an official piece of mail with your name on it at your address.  Also, we will require a photo identification form the individual who asks for the pantry's help, and additionally, the names and birthdates of everyone else in your household.

You will the be asked to sign the intake form, certifying the information you provided is true and you meet the income eligibility requirements, which are to be within 185 percent of the poverty level.

Once the paperwork is complete, you will be asked to sit in the waiting room until your number is called.  To reduce waste and help ensure your dignity while receiving food for your home, we use a "shopping method" whenever possible, 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 a five-day supply of food for the number of people living together, limited to once every 30 days.

Our eligibility requirements are based on the 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 use 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.

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.’