Just outside one of the most affluent regions in the country, there are families that are going to bed hungry.
How is that possible?
According to the federal guidelines for poverty, as of January, a family of four in New York State must make no more than $26,200 to be considered “in poverty.”
“Can you imagine living in Putnam County, four people on ($26,200) a year?” asked Putnam Community Action Partnership Director Judy Callahan on a recent episode of “Locally Sourced,” a public access television series showcasing organizations in the Hudson Valley.
“The poverty level in Putnam, it’s low – it’s 5.3 percent as compared to 15.7 percent, I believe, at the state level,” explained Callahan. “But still, 5.3 percent of almost 100,000 people is 5,300 people who are technically living in poverty.”
Putnam CAP is currently seeking donations for its food pantry. Callahan said crackers and spaghetti sauce are especially needed.
CAP “currently has over 400 clients this year and expects that number to rise to an equivalent level as 2019, which was more than 700,” she said. “Our services are open to all residents of Putnam County who meet the income guidelines for eligibility; folks can call the office for details.”
CAP’s food pantry is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday and Friday. On Wednesdays, the hours are extended from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“Food donations are gratefully accepted at the CAP office, located at 121 Main St., in Brewster, any weekday (during operating hours),” said Callahan.
CAP – which is a program run under the Westchester Community Opportunity Program – has been serving Putnam County residents in need since 1986 ,and Callahan has been with the organization for nine years. Both agencies work with people with low income to help them obtain self-sufficiency.
Putnam CAP runs a number of annual initiatives each year to help families in need, including a collection of back-to-school supplies for kids, a Thanksgiving basket giveaway, and a holiday toy drive.
“We serve over 500 children, and each child gets at least four toys each,” said Callahan of the toy drive.
In addition, the organization leads a volunteer-run soup kitchen that is open between three and four days a week, depending on the season, at First Baptist Church in Brewster. And its food pantry is constantly being re-stocked throughout the year.
“We have on an average month – not everyone comes every month – we see probably 325 to 350 households,” said Callahan.
All these services are free.
According to Callahan, when clients turn to CAP for the first time, they have an intake appointment with a caseworker who works with the individual or family to see where CAP can help, and where additional assistance can come from, such as the county’s Department of Social Services.
“We really do look at the entire picture, because people don’t just come to us because they can’t afford food and that’s the extent of the problem,” said Callahan. “That’s what brings them to the door.”
For more information on how to obtain the services of CAP, or ways to volunteer or donate, call the office at 845-278-8021 or visit putnamcap.org.
CAP will hold its annual luncheon and silent auction Thursday, April 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at St. James Church, Doherty Hall in Carmel. Tickets are $50 per guest. Auction items and sponsorships are being sought. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the office.