MEXICO — “There is no reason for any family or individual to worry about not having enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oswego County is well-positioned to respond to any and all food request needs.”
That is the message that Oswego County’s human service agencies want everyone to hear.
Diane Godfrey, Community Services Coordinator for the Oswego County Department of Social Services, said that recent reports on social media and rumors of food shortages or food pantry closures have left some people concerned about food security in the county.
“There is no basis for these concerns at this time!” said Godfrey. “There are multiple pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies that are meeting the ever-changing needs of our citizens.”
Godfrey said services and resources are available across the county for people to either pick up food supplies or have food and essential items delivered to their homes.
“There is truly no need for anyone to go without food or become anxious or worried for fear of lack of food or accessibility to it,” said Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup. “The Department of Social Services is working closely with numerous agencies across the county to make sure there are adequate food supplies. We want everyone to be assured that there are several options available to ensure that individuals and families have access to the food they need to get through the COVID-19 crisis.”
Godfrey said several agencies provide delivery services in addition to curbside pick-up. The Food Bank of Central New York continues to provide food to all pantries.
“There are no shortages being experienced by our network of food pantries throughout the county. They are well stocked,” said Godfrey.
Assistance is available through the following organizations. Immediate assistance is also available 24/7 by calling 211 or visiting the CNY 211 website at https://211cny.com/ .
• School districts: Each school district has food distribution plans in place. Schedules and locations can be found on each district’s website.
• Catholic Charities is able to assist with food distribution county-wide. The agency offers a food pantry at 808 West Broadway, Fulton. The food pantry is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Check the website at www.ccoswego.com for any updates. For emergency needs not related to food, call (315) 598-3980. Customers don’t need to call if they are only coming to get food from the pantry.
Catholic Charities also offers a “Warm Line” Monday through Friday to give people a connection to another person during this time of isolation and limited services. Call (315) 598-3980 and dial 0. The Warm Line operates weekdays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Salvation Army, 73 W. Second St., Oswego is open and available for food pantry and deliveries. Pantry hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fulton Salvation Army, 3 S. First St., food pantry is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information contact the Salvation Army of Oswego at (315) 343-6491 or visit https://empire.salvationarmy.org/empireny/oswego.
• Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) provides Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals for nutritionally-at-risk homebound elderly individuals or those unable to prepare meals. For more information visit www.oco.org or call (315) 598-4712. Those over age 60 must apply for Meals on Wheels through the Oswego County Office for the Aging, phone (315) 349-3484. For OCO Crisis Hotline call 1-877-342-7618.
• Oswego County Office for the Aging (OFA) has a supply of food and supplies available for seniors and will deliver if needed. For more information call (315) 349-3484 or visit https://www.oswegocounty.com/departments/human_services/office_for_the_aging/index.php.
• Food Bank of Central NY operates food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the area. For locations visit https://www.foodbankcny.org/find-food/ or call (315) 437-1899, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
“Food Bank of Central New York is committed to ensuring that if there is a gap in service available for food distribution in Oswego County, we will coordinate additional opportunities and resources to the county to offer food to those who are in need during this pandemic,” said Karen Belcher, Interim Executive Director of the Food Bank of Central New York.
Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said that with the community’s support the County Health Department is able to make sure that individuals under mandatory quarantine or isolation have their food needs taken care of. However, anyone who has questions or concerns regarding food needs for individuals who may be self-quarantined or who have fears of being exposed, may reach out to any of the above agencies for services.
The NYS Office of Temporary And Disability Assistance (OTDA) is also making every effort to make SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs) more accessible and valuable to individuals who are already in receipt of SNAP, as well as those who need to apply to supplement their food income during this challenging time.
Households already in receipt of SNAP benefits are being granted a supplemental benefit for the months of March and April to bring their current SNAP benefit to the maximum allowed under the program. The state began authorizing the supplements on April 16 and randomly issued them until April 27. Households should continue to check their benefit availability during this time to see when the monies have been deposited into their account.
In order to make SNAP more accessible and expedite the issuance of benefits, NYS has also waived the standard interview requirements to receive SNAP benefits as long as all information needed to process the application is received. Households can apply or recertify for their SNAP benefits online at www.mybenefits.ny.gov or contact the Oswego County Department of Social Services at (315) 963-5021.
Additional and updated information regarding SNAP benefits is also available at the oswegocounty.com website.
For additional information on food distribution sources, call Diane Godfrey at the Oswego County Department of Social Services at (315) 602-6001.