Need at Salvation Army’s pantry, soup kitchen more than doubles

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The number of people being helped by the Watertown Salvation Army has more than doubled. The news comes as the organization gets ready for a big fundraiser this weekend.

“We have a pretty small food pantry. It’s probably one of the smaller ones in the community,” said Captain Dominic Nicoll.

The small pantry packs a punch. In 2021, it served 395 people. Last year, 827 people benefited from the pantry.

“That is a number that keeps growing for us,” said Nicoll.

It’s the same story for the number of meals served at the State Street organization’s soup kitchen.

“In 2022, in January and February, we averaged around 1,200 meals. This year, we’re averaging 3,500 in those two months,” said Nicoll.

With no sign of slowing down.

“For this month of March, we’re right on track to do 4,000 meals for this community,” he said.

Nicoll attributes the spike to inflation and a higher cost of living.

At the beginning of March, millions of Americans had a reduction in their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits as part of federal assistance given during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last Thursday, we served over 340 people in just an hour-and-a-half lunch. Those lunches are going straight out the door to those who need them,” said Nicoll.

To continue to fill the need, the Salvation Army relies heavily on fundraisers including a pancake breakfast.

“Food costs have gone up and up for people in their grocery bills, and they’re going up and up for us in non-profits too,” said Nicoll.

The pancake breakfast fundraiser will be held this Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can buy tickets at the door.