Basic Needs and Emergency Assistance
The primary service provided in our Basic Needs & Emergency Assistance Program is the Community Food Pantry, which is available to county residents at no cost. Consumers receive a three-day supply of food, including seasonal produce and fresh dairy products, at each encounter. Diapers, formula, and necessary household and personal hygiene items that cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits are included in our pantry inventory. An additional service is the Summer Lunch program. This program provides lunches to children at 5 sites throughout Cortland County during the summer when reduced or free breakfast/lunch is not available through their school district. In the spring, we provide “Bucket Gardens” to any Food Pantry consumers interested in growing produce.
Other services include prescription assistance or other health care needs for the uninsured or under insured, assistance with shelter related and utilty emergencies, and “Back 2 School” school supplies for children.
Charles came to the Emergency Assistance program looking for food assistance. He was new to the Cortland community and had applied for food stamps and was waiting for his SSD to restart. In talking with him it was discovered he was a veteran and had not had the time to meet with the local veteran’s agency. I gave him the phone number to get in touch with Veteran’s Affairs and he called from my office and set up an appointment. He was temporarily staying with friends until he could find an apt. We assisted him with some landlord information and referred him to our Supported Housing Program, for which he was eligible due to his post-service PTSD. We helped him establish housing, provided furnishings and a rent stipend, and helped him connect with the mental health services he needed. Since that time, he has returned to full–time employment and has settled his family locally.