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Ogdensburg Salvation Army needs community’s help to feed the hungry

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The Ogdensburg Salvation Army is falling desperately short of food and funds to help feed the city’s needy, and is looking for community donations to fill the gap.

Salvation Army Capt. Timothy A. Shaffer said Tuesday that the agency currently has enough food on hand at its 401 Franklin St. center to only serve one or two people. He said the agency’s federal grant funding through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program has not increased to meet demand.

Mr. Shaffer said his the federal grant amounts to $2,700 annually to purchase food through the Food Bank of Central New York.

“Our money doesn’t come through until next month, and we are also still waiting for our federal emergency food and shelter program money we were supposed to get last year, of which we’ve only gotten half,” he said.

He said the number of people looking for food through the Salvation Army’s food pantry varies, but he expects more people to come through his doors in the coming weeks, when needy parents can no longer rely on schools to help feed their children. The agency also operates a soup kitchen every Tuesday that serves 40 to 60 people.

“We have spent about $8,000 so far on food this year,” he said. “We only get so much money, and the rise in need has come up.”

He said the agency has changed its guidelines so that those accessing its food pantry can only do so every 60 days in an effort to cut down on the number of people who abuse the service by frequently coming back for more food. That has affected how much federal money his agency can get, he said, although he has requested more funding to meet legitimate demand.

Mr. Shaffer said the community is the Salvation Army’s only hope to help it feed the city’s hungry.

“We need everything,” he said. “We’ll take whatever we can get. Nonperishable food can be dropped off at the store (Seek and Find Shop on State Street) and we have a freezer and space to store perishable food here.”

Monetary donations are also welcomed, he said. Donations may be dropped off at the center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said the center’s afternoon hours are by appointment only, but there is usually somebody there to open the door for visitors before 3 p.m.

He said volunteers are also needed to run community programs, conduct outreach and serve on the agency’s advisory board. For more information, call the Salvation Army center at 393-3351.

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