Local groups work to feed the hungry during pandemic

Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - One of the big questions to come from the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you feed those who are hungry? There are groups taking care of that.

The Community Action Planning Council's food pantry in Watertown is up and running again. But Family Center Director Mary Mathewson says COVID-19 concerns will keep patrons at the door.

"With the staff that we have here, we can't have any extra people in our buildings," she said.

People can line up outside the building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week.

Mathewson says they already are.

"You're talking over 220, 230 families in three days," she said.

There are some conditions. People can only come once a week and CAPC Executive Director Melinda Gault says they have to self report their income.

"They have to attest that, say, 'Yes, I have 6 people in my household, and I make between this amount and this amount,'" she said.

At Watertown's Salvation Army, a limited staff is still giving out food and prepared lunches to people coming by. But, the dining room is closed.

"We're trying to make sure those meals are still provided, but the folks have to come and take it home," said Major Karen Smullen of the Salvation Army.

She said her organization is receiving food and drink donations from the community. That means what people can pick up could change daily.

"Maybe Monday, we won't have anything fresh left, just sweets. That's what we have, and we'll give," said Smullen.

Mathewson says she hopes to give people peace of mind during these uncertain times.

“If we can take that worry of food, where am I going to get my next meal, we’ve done our job,” she said.

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