Woman makes it her mission to feed the hungry during pandemic

WWNY Woman makes it her mission to feed the hungry during pandemic

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Mary Jane Mathewson is making it her mission to see no one goes hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s a friendly face you may see stocking shelves at the Community Action Planning Council food pantry in Watertown.

But things changed for Mathewson when the pandemic hit.

“I remember it as if it was yesterday. March 13th, Friday the 13th, is literally when, you know, history started,” said Mathewson, CPAC Family Center director.

Before the pandemic, customers could come to the pantry once every 30 days. But after March 13, that changed to once each week.

Matthewson and her team had 48 hours to prepare.

“If you would’ve said that to me a year ago, I would’ve said, ‘I think it takes a little more than two days of planning to change your whole operation.’ But it didn’t,” she said.

All the food was moved into a hallway, which became filled with boxes ready to feed thousands of families.

Aside from the pantry, Mathewson organized meals for kids when schools shut down and partnered with other organizations for food distributions held across Jefferson County.

“I kind of get goosebumps now because we’re all in this together. It’s not Community Action, it’s not agency A, it’s not agency B. It’s a community effort,” she said.

And Mathewson is still going. She says as long as there’s a need, she’s right here to fill it.

“It’s eye-opening to see the need. But it’s so fulfilling that we’re here and able to help them,” she said.

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