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Food insecurity on the rise! United, we can change that!

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May 21, 2024

Food insecurity remains a pressing issue in our local communities, with pantries continuing to see growing numbers of clients over time. United, we can work to change this story.

United Way of Northern New York, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Watertown Savings Bank, Jefferson County, and Advanced Business Systems are working together to coordinate a Community Food Drive aimed at addressing this critical need by gathering healthy donations of food for children and families. The drive will take place on Wednesday, June 5, in the Walmart parking lot on State Route 3 in Watertown. From 8 AM to 2 PM, individuals and organizations are invited to contribute non-perishable food items and hygiene products to benefit local pantries and organizations.

The timing of this drive aligns with the summer break from school when under-resourced parents and caregivers face additional challenges in meeting the nutritional needs of growing children. By supporting this initiative, the community can help alleviate the burden on families during this critical period. Food pantries across the region are reporting significant increases in the number of individuals seeking food assistance.

At the VEM Food Pantry in Carthage, the number of families served has more than doubled in the past two years, with the pantry serving 248 families from January 1 to April 30 in 2022 and 586 families during the same period in 2024. The number of individuals served jumped from 735 to 1569 between 2022 and 2024, with the breakdown as follows: 534 children, 770 adults and 265 seniors in 2024. The pantry provides clients with a 5-day supply of food, 15 meals per person, totaling 11,025 meals for 2022 and 23,535 meals in 2024. According to Jody Mono of the VEM Food Pantry, “2023 was a significant jump as well, it has been a steady increase, but looking at this being doubled humbles us all.”

United Way of Northern New York calls upon all individuals, businesses, and community organizations to lend support to this important cause. Consider placing a collection box within your premises to gather donations and spread the word by sharing the event flyer and following United Way of NNY on social media to amplify the message about the food drive.

Should your business or organization wish to contribute to the food drive by gathering donations in the workplace, the United Way team is happy to provide the necessary tools for success and will work to support your efforts every step of the way. Click here to access the food drive toolkit or call us for help, (315) 788-5631.