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Jefferson County residents may use $59k in emergency food, shelter funds

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WATERTOWN — Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds are still available for Jefferson County residents who have little food, may soon have their power shut off or cannot make their rent payment this month.

The Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, which serves as the fiscal agent of those funds for Jefferson County, received $6,052 for its food pantry and the Jefferson County Department of Social Services’ food bags for the homeless. The Watertown Urban Mission received $4,842 for food and baby formula, while the Watertown Salvation Army received $21,783 for its soup kitchen.

Tammy S. Kitto, CAPC’s emergency services manager, said CAPC also received $26,624 for utility and rent assistance.

“It’s going fairly quickly, especially with utilities,” Ms. Kitto said. “We still have money, but it’s first-come, first-served. We can’t hold monies.”

When the local review board for the funds sent its plan to the national program board, Ms. Kitto said, the idea was to divide the $26,624 in half for rent and utility payment assistance. Since utility needs are greater, the national board allowed for some flexibility, she said.

Now that the spending period ends Aug. 31, Ms. Kitto said, people need to submit requests to CAPC and like agencies that received emergency funds as soon as possible.

“In years past we used to get money around March and it’d end around November,” she said. “It’s going at a rapid pace.”

Ms. Kitto said while there is less time to spend money, local agencies and the state as a whole have less money to spend.

“Years back we’d get $80,000,” she said. “There’s just less money. It’s doing more with less.”

Throughout the past three years, there have been only a few households that have requested a portion of the emergency program funds more than one year. Ms. Kitto said emergency financial assistance has been made available to families with both low and moderate income levels.

CAPC’s food pantry, meanwhile, also has had many clients.

“We had a horribly (busy) month in June, probably because kids were getting out of school,” she said. “Of course there also was a decrease in food stamps.”

In June, the CAPC pantry, at agency headquarters at 518 Davidson St., served 342 households for a total 1,000 people.

The mission’s food pantry also serves hundreds of households monthly. The Watertown Salvation Army also within the past year has reported an increase in meals served in its soup kitchen, which is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

For more information, call CAPC at 782-4900.

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