As the holiday season approaches, many people start to prepare menus for big holiday gatherings with friends and family, while others may not know if they will even have a holiday meal.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation or can last for longer periods of time.
According to Feeding America, more than 44 million people, including 13 million children, experience food insecurity in the United States. In New York, more than 2.67 million children and adults are food insecure. In Schenectady County, over 18,000 people—6,000 of them being children and infants—are food insecure.
We’ve compiled community resources and options for those in Schenectady County looking for help during the holidays and throughout the year.
Free Community Meals
City Mission is a homeless shelter in Schenectady provides homes for 100 individuals, while also providing food and clothing for its residents and the greater community.
“Everyday we provide three meals to our residents but we also provide community meals, every day to those in the community,” said Erin Breslin, Associate Director of Development. “It’s actually a sit-down meal where someone can come in and sit and have a meal. In addition, 24/7 we provide bagged lunches for anyone in the community who comes by before or after our community meals.”
Every holiday season, City Mission holds a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. This Thanksgiving Day, a free Thanksgiving meal will be served at 1:00 p.m. at 512 Smith St.
For more information on the City Mission or the food services, visit their website or call the dining center at (518) 346-2275 ext. 334.
Concerned for the Hungry (CFH):
Families in Schenectady who face food insecurity can receive assistance this season from Concerned for the Hungry.
CFH, founded in 1979, is a group of individuals who recognized the need for emergency food and services. For over 40 years, CFH has been donating Thanksgiving food baskets.
If your family or yourself signed up at the end of October, the food baskets will be available for pickup on Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Keane Elementary School. Also, throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, families or individuals who qualify for services can receive four days of free food.
St. Luke’s Daily Bread Food Pantry:
The Daily Bread Food Pantry is the second largest food pantry in Schenectady County. The pantry provides 100,000 items of food to those in need yearly but with some exceptions.
Daily Bread does not accept walk-ins—in order to receive items from the pantry, community members are asked to call and leave a message, then a member of the pantry will return the call to take the order and schedule a time for pick up.
The pantry is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and the second Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
For more information on the pantry, to donate or receive items, visit their website or call (518) 347-1385.
Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM):
Schenectady Community Ministries offers both a mobile pantry and an in-person pantry.
The pantries provide shelf- stable necessities, fresh produce, baby needs and personal care items.
According to SICM, the goal is to provide increased availability of wholesome nourishment at a place and time that is convenient to the guests. This allows them to relinquish the worry of acquiring quality foods, at no cost, and focus on other needs that may be present in their lives.
The Rev Phil Food Pantry provides groceries to families around Schenectady County. This food pantry is open year round on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. If you cannot make it to the food pantry, they will deliver.
The mobile pantry is an option for those who would like healthy food options in Schenectady outside of operating hours of The Rev Phil Food Pantry.
Locations for the mobile pantry vary on the day of the week. For locations and times, visit their website.
Can Drives and Donations
Basket Brigade at the YMCA:
Since 2016, the YMCA has been helping those in need to enjoy the season of Thanksgiving and enjoy a meal of their own. In a partnership with HMA Contracting Corp., they raise funds to donate turkeys and the accompanying side dishes to families in four counties.
With the estimated cost to feed a family of four with a turkey and fixings of $65, the YMCA will be collecting monetary donations as well as pre-packaged and canned items. All branches will be collecting canned vegetables, canned fruit, stuffing, mashed potatoes, canned yams, gravy and brownie mix.
The Schenectady branch is located at 433 State St. Items will be collected until Nov. 11. For more information, visit their website.
Regional Food Bank of NorthEastern New York:
A member of Feeding America, the nonprofit organization collects donated food and distributes it. According to the Food Bank, they work to alleviate hunger and prevent food waste by accepting large donations of food from the food industry and distributing those donations to agencies that feed hungry people.
The Regional Food Bank gets food from farmers, manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers. They donate anything from food to paper products to hygiene products.
To learn more about the Regional Food Bank or to find an agency near you, visit their website.
Schenectady County Food Council:
The Schenectady County Food Council is a multi-organization, collaborative initiative, to increase food security within the county.
“The Schenectady County Food Council is focused on changing the food system by engaging community members to help others and themselves,” said Kristi Milligan, Director of Grants and Community Programs at The Schenectady Foundation. “We truly believe that the people closest to the issue are those that will have the best handle on how to fix the issue. That’s why we are encouraging every Schenectady resident to get involved, share their perspectives, and work toward our common goal of increasing food security in Schenectady County.”
The Food Council, which unites local organizations, including the Electric City Food Co-Op, the Schenectady Community Ministries (SICM) and Food Pantries for the Capital District, will provide recommendations to policymakers on how to eliminate food insecurity in the region.
If you would like to learn more about the Food Council you can visit the website here.