The United Way of Northern New York doesnt want to see any north country resident go hungry.
That is why the agency will include two St. Lawrence County food pantries as beneficiaries, along with 19 food pantries in Jefferson County, in its 20th annual Jefferson County food drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 in the parking lot of St. Anthonys Church at Arsenal Street and Bellew Avenue. A food pantry in the Clifton-Fine Community Center, Star Lake, and Grace Food Pantry, Gouverneur, will receive an equal share of nonperishable and personal hygiene items collected.
Both of those communities kind of came to us and said, Can we be included? said Jayn M. Graves, United Way chief professional officer. In both communities, we have businesses supportive of the United Way.
Miss Graves said both pantries will be included on a trial basis this year, and United Way staff members will try to create a plan for St. Lawrence County to have a United Way-run food drive next year.
Because communities in St. Lawrence County are widespread, she said, the United Way would have to figure out whether it would be best to have a food drive there in one location or have a collection date for several locations.
Currently, there are separate collections held in Jefferson and Lewis counties.
For the United Way, as we move to the impact model, the issue of hunger and critical needs for local families has become a signature (topic), Miss Graves said. It has really become a cornerstone of our philosophy the need for critical assistance on a yearly basis.
Whether their operations are small or large, representatives from some Jefferson County food pantries have said they count on the United Ways annual fall food drive to help stock shelves.
Christine D. Eckhoff said the small pantry she runs at St. Andrews Catholic Church, Sackets Harbor, has served about 20 people per month this year. A pantry was started nearby in Dexter, and some people who previously used the Sackets Harbor pantry shifted sites.
Because the St. Andrews food pantry is smaller than most in Jefferson County, Mrs. Eckhoff said, not as much food is collected or donated, and its always a struggle to keep up with demand. There, a three-day supply of emergency food is given to a person or family, and items vary depending on family size.
We have the same people who come back, she said.
The same may be said for the Watertown Urban Missions food pantry, as a five-day supply of food is given every 30-day cycle to families in need. An average of 550 families are seen each month.
Were always looking for proteins: peanut butter, tuna fish and any kind of meat, said Erika F. Flint, executive director.
To make the United Way food drive successful in Jefferson County, more volunteers are needed, according to Tobi R. Darrah, director of the Jefferson and Lewis United Way campaigns.
Last year it was pretty impressive; we had all the Jefferson County department heads there, she said.
To volunteer, call the United Way at 788-5631.