UTICA, N.Y (WFXV-TV) — Before the pandemic the Johnson Park Center served around 600 households per month. Now they’re serving 800 households per giveaway and the need for more food continues to grow. They also cut their drive-thru giveaways from twice a month to once a month.
“Going to only one drive-thru affected many people especially the disabled and the seniors because that’s when we did the survey they were telling us for them it was really convenient. If you have any kind of disability it’s really hard to be in a line to get food.” – Rev. Ursula Meier, Chief Operations Officer
They conducted the survey back in April to identify the needs of their patrons during the pandemic. One key question asked was “did covid-19 influence your income?” out of the 777 responses 78% said yes. Some even travel from outside of Utica because there aren’t food donations in their area. Reverend Meier says JPC just can’t keep up with the growing demand.
“Today we’re going to serve around 800 households. That’s more than 3,000 individuals living in those households and that’s like 27,000 meals. So, the quantities that we have grown to serve and to meet the need here in Oneida County it’s just outgrown what people can delivery to us.” – Rev. Ursula Meier, Chief Operations Officer
Rafael has been volunteering for about a year and says even if you can’t afford to donate, you can help by donating your time.
“It’s just about giving back to the community, everything that’s going on with the COVID, you know people are in need. If there’s any more volunteers out there feel free to come on over we’ll appreciate the help.” – Rafael Pacheco, Volunteer, Johnson Park Center
Their next giveaway is Tuesday the 26th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone who’s able to donate can visit their website johnsonparkcenter.org.