donate and facebook  
CSCAA logo   cayuga seneca community action agency


  Food Security  

A Sustainable and Collaborative

Approach to Hunger Relief


A Project Funded by The Walmart Foundation


Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency is the recipient of a Walmart Foundation State Giving Grant in the amount of $50,000, to address hunger relief by collaborating with nine food pantries and soup kitchens in Cayuga County and one food pantry in Seneca County. The Agency is grateful to the Walmart Foundation and to Sheryl Jones, the Good Works Coordinator of the local Walmart store in Auburn, for believing in this project and its potential positive impact on communities in need.

The Walmart Foundation is committed to addressing hunger relief through its initiative, "Fighting Hunger Together."   The Foundation's donations of cash, food, refrigerated trucks, mobile pantries and other resources, have made a major impact on communities across America. To date, "Fighting Hunger Together" has provided more than $122 million in grants and 594 million pounds of food to various communities. To learn more about this initiative, click here. To find out more about the Walmart Foundation's State Giving Grant Program, click here.

The grant will fund the expansion of the Calvary Food Pantry-BOCES Partnership Garden, which provides free, locally grown varieties of fresh produce to food pantries and soup kitchens in Cayuga County. The grant will also fund the Agency's implementation of a high tunnel at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, to grow fresh produce year-round for area pantries, so that low-income families and individuals have access to fresh, nutritive produce even during the winter months, when fresh vegetables tend to be cost-prohibitive.

The project is already underway, and fresh produce from the Calvary Food Pantry-BOCES Partnership Garden continues to be harvested and delivered to people in need, along with receipe cards on how to prepare vegetables like kale, swiss chard and spinach. Project participants are tracking the accessibility of fresh produce for low-income customers, and its impact on their dietary habits and general nutrition. Project participants are also helping to promote self-sufficiency by working closely with the WIC and Food Stamp programs, and Cayuga Works, the local Workforce Development program, to encourage greater participation in these programs, as steps towards self-sufficiency.

The following is a list of the project participants and descriptions of their programs:


 Calvary Food Pantry CNY Inc. (CFP) is celebrating 25 years of continuous service to the community.  It started in a small closet at Calvary Presbyterian Church. Over the years, CFP grew as the need for emergency food services grew. In 2005, CFP incorporated and became a 501(c)(3) entity.  CFP is one of thirteen food providers active in Cayuga County. Last year, CFP provided over 165,510 meals to 3,171 families throughout the community. Special food baskets were also prepared for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Over 60 volunteers are drawn from several area churches, Senior Corps Volunteer Organization (previously R.S.V.P.), community organizations, and numerous individuals. Volunteers unload food deliveries, stock shelves, coordinate client requests and distribute the food three times a week. Each day, the pantry has 2 or 3 volunteers who put together the food for families who have come in for assistance.  This requires selecting food that will provide three nutritious meals a day for at least five days for those in need.  Throughout  the year, financial support comes from several fundraisers, local foundations, churches in the community, and individuals. To learn more about the Calvary Food Pantry, visit their website:



The Calvary Food Pantry-BOCES Partnership Garden is run by Ken and Audrey Mochel. The garden is an auxiliary of the Calvary Food Pantry, and began ten years ago as a small garden to give people a place to grow their own vegetables. The pantry joined BOCES in January 2010, to form a collaborative endeavor to grow fresh food for individuals and families in need.

The mission of the CFP-BOCES Partnership Garden is to:

  • Provide fresh food for low income families; 
  • Provide educational opportunities and demonstrations for families to plant their own gardens, extend the growing season, and to preserve locally grown food;
  • Teach community service to young people and the fun of gardening and cooking for health, and,  
  • Create a feeling of community that transcends age, race, and economic diversity.

The Mochels are growing greater varieties of crops this year to address the growing demand for specialty ethnic produce, such as habanero peppers, eggplant, bok choy, and collard greens. In 2010, the garden produced $6,000 worth of fresh produce, and in 2011, production increased to $9,000 (5,200 pounds) worth of produce, but demand in 2012 has escalated to the point that the Mochels have had to expand the garden.

The Mochels, along with their two interns, are working with BOCES students in planting and caring for extensive plant beds that are already in place, as well as assisting a public school leadership group in planting and caring for additional garden beds at the BOCES location, which will also benefit the various pantries. Most recently, the Mochels were happy to entertain a volunteer group of staff members from Welch Allyn - the volunteers spent the day helping to harvest, prune, weed and water the crops.


Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency runs a food pantry in Cayuga County and one in Seneca County. During the 2010-2011 program year, the Agency served 6,442 emergency meals. Both Food Pantries are unique as they serve customers regardless of where they live within Cayuga County and Seneca County, and customers are able to receive food weekly as opposed to monthly.  Partial funding for the Cayuga County Food Pantry is provided through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) administered through the Food Bank of Central New York and Federal FEMA funds. The Seneca County Food Pantry receives its funding from FoodLink in Rochester. However, both Food Pantries are dependent also on the generous donations received from many local sources, both public and private.

The Agency currently maintains a garden at their Site II location, for Head Start students and their parents, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged. Head Start children between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age directly sow, cultivate and harvest fresh vegetables in the garden. The Head Start cook also plays an active role in utilizing the garden's fresh produce to prepare meals for the children.

Through grant funds from the Walmart Foudation, the Agency is about to embark on an innovative project by building a high tunnel on the grounds of the local Cayuga County Community College, to grow fresh produce year-round for area pantries and soup kitchens. Varieties of crops will be planted and maintained in the high tunnel by volunteers. Low-income students at the Community College stand to benefit from the fresh produce generated by the high tunnel, in addition to faculty at the College, who intend to utilize the high tunnel to promote student learning in sustainability initiatives.


The First Love Food Pantry is a total choice pantry offering a wide variety of foods including fresh produce when available. Consumers can choose between fresh produce, canned food or both. The pantry offers recipes for "specialty foods" that often come from the Food Bank of CNY, so as to encourage consumers to try new types of foods. The pantry offers its consumers a package containing 3 meals per day for 5 days, in addition to providing access to one or two miscellaneous shelves for consumers to select two personal care/household items.  First Love Food Pantry strives to treat each person with dignity and respect and believes it is crucial to take the time to listen to their concerns and needs and direct them to other agencies that can best assist them with their various needs.  The Panty’s "walk-in" hours are Mondays and Fridays from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. unless otherwise posted on the door. Appointments are also available every day except Sundays (the pantry staff will assist in extreme emergencies).  Phone numbers are listed on the door. 

 The Community Soup Kitchen serves lunches Monday to Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The meals are hearty and served home-style, and vary from day to day. Everyone is able to have seconds and usually able to take a meal home (Summers are challenging as the Soup Kitchen never knows how many people to expect and sometimes may not have enough for "takeouts").  The Soup Kitchen also provides miscellaneous items  and clothing available to consumers at no cost. 

The Soup Kitchen receives breads and desserts from Panera Bread once per week , and also receives produce, breads and desserts from Tops and Wegmans once per week. Everyone is able to take home many wonderful items that most could not afford to have otherwise. The Soup Kitchen is staffed daily with a different group of caring  and nurturing volunteers who really enjoy interacting with visitors to the Soup Kitchen. 

King Ferry Food Pantry

The King Ferry Food Pantry was started by the Good Shepherd Catholic Community. Although the pantry is designated to serve the Southern Cayuga School District, they see consumers from across Southern Cayuga County. The food pantry addresses the unique challenges of Southern Cayuga County’s large and diverse immigrant community, many of whom live in isolation and are prevented from accessing benefits for which they qualify, due to language barriers, complexity of application forms, lack of transportation and documentation requirements.  The King Ferry Food Pantry serves the County’s one true migrant seasonal labor camp, which houses 150+ men, women and children who travel across state borders, moving throughout the country in search of harvest work.  Staff make frequent in-home visits and provide bilingual information about the food pantry and the availability of food by delivery.  Staff outreach deep into the migrant community provides a lifeline of culturally appropriate food for those who need help, and connects the year-round farmworker community with important services.  As part of this mobile outreach, the pantry offers introductory food packages of culturally appropriate food items and donated produce and baked goods, and also sponsors educational and wellness programs at the labor camp, most recently: HIV/STD, Healthy Eating, Hygiene, Women’s Health, Labor Rights, Substance Abuse.  

The pantry provides a 7 to 10-day food package for consumers, and has seen a steady increase in the number of meals served from 2010-2011. The pantry operates as a “client choice” style food pantry, with a pleasant atmosphere where guests are allowed to view and select the foods they need and want based on personal preferences, health concerns, and whether or not they already have the product, thereby minimizing waste. Fresh produce availability is a high priority for the pantry.  They partner with two nearby crop farms and receive donations of local produce throughout the harvest season, and also collaborate with the local high school’s Future Farmers of America class to offer a Seed to Supper Program.  The class grows and nurtures vegetable seedlings, and offers those plants to consumers who have the ability to grow some food in their own garden, thereby improving their self-reliance.  

The King Ferry Food Pantry has a regular schedule of operation and sufficient volunteer staff on hand to warmly greet and interact with clients, making them feel welcome. They provide a variety of volunteer opportunities for adult and youth community members, including food pantry clients and those with limited physical abilities. All persons are served without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability or national origin.  The pantry offers carry-out service for everyone and special assistance to those with physical limitations. New clients are offered Food Stamp Application Packets, the Cayuga County Human Services Coalition resource directory (with specific services being referred highlighted and discussed), Earned Income Tax Credit information and CASH tax preparation service information.  The pantry has a Children’s Area where client children may select their own food items and interact with a librarian who will ask about their interests and help them select free books to take home.  Children’s birthday bags (candles, balloons, plates, etc.) and a birthday cake are offered to families with a child’s birthday during the coming month.  In December, they have a children’s gift room, where client children may select gently used or new items to create a Christmas gift for their parent(s).  The pantry is in the planning stages of piloting a mentor program where a food pantry volunteer couple would mentor one or two children from a single parent household who need caring adult role models, helping them to expand their horizons, realize their potential and enrich their futures. The food pantry also serves students from the local college who find themselves on the receiving end of reduced support from parents and the government, and find it difficult to meet the constantly rising cost of tuition, books, housing and meals.  The pantry advertises its offerings along with other resource information at the local college, and also offers students the opportunity to volunteer at the food pantry based on their class schedules and hours of availability.  The pantry supports and participates in a local Wellness Day, Souper Bowl Sunday, CROP Walk, Tomatofest and other county hunger awareness events, and has a positive reputation in the community and diverse fundraising strategies that solicit food and funds from multiple community sources. 


The St. Alphonsus Food Pantry has been in operation since 1984. During the holiday season last year, the pantry served 475 families for Thanksgiving and 417 for Christmas. The families received a full Thanksgiving and Christmas meal plus enough food for three more days. During the rest of the year, the pantry serves about 300 families per month. They receive enough food for three meals a day for three days. The pantry has had to cut back on their food baskets due to an increase in the number of consumers accessing the pantry and a decline in donations. The pantry networks with several agencies for Holiday Baskets which include Head Start, Cayuga Centers, Alternate School, Summitt School, BOCES, Mental Health, and the Dept. of Health & Human Services. The St. Alphonsus Food Pantry also administers the Food $en$e Program.  The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. They are also available after hours, weekends and on holidays for referrals from Social Services or the Auburn Police Department.

When consumers visit the St. Alphonsus Food Pantry, staff check to see if they are receiving other services and if they are not, staff members will work with each consumer to provide information and referrals to access various types of services, such as, WIC, HEAP, Medical Insurance, Food Stamps, Social Services, ADECCO and Kelly Services for employment. The pantry also receives fresh fruit and vegetable donations from the Farmers Market, the Calvary Food Pantry-BOCES Parternship Garden, as well as from local stores. The pantry provides its consumers with recipes for the various foods it disseminates from the pantry. Pantry staff will also accommodate special dietary requirements such as diabetes, gluten free and low cholesterol diets whenever possible. The pantry carries fresh 1% milk, frozen meats, and personal care products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and women’s care products.

SS’s Peter & John Soup Kitchen

In the early months of 2004, a group of parishioners from Auburn’s SS’s Peter & John Church became aware that there was no place to obtain a hot meal on Saturdays for those in need. In response to that need, a committee was formed and the framework for a soup kitchen was created. Through their efforts, the new soup kitchen started serving Saturday meals in early April of 2004.  Situated on the fringe of the downtown area, the kitchen is located within walking distance of two senior citizen’s housing units.  The general neighborhood is largely a low-income housing area and many of the Soup Kitchen’s diners can easily walk to their meal.  However, they also get people from other areas of the city.  The Soup Kitchen’s growth has gone from 20 meals those first Saturdays to a range of 80 to 130 diners, with a present average of over 105 meals each week. Since its inception, the Soup Kitchen has never missed serving a Saturday meal.

The Soup Kitchen provides an area near the front door for community announcements and brochures available to its diners.  These include: four types of brochures from Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency on developing a personal safety plan; domestic violence intervention and teen dating violence,  along with the Soup Kitchen’s own brochure.  In addition, there is a prominent display of the following : inquiry forms for W.I.C.; a job hunting/employment group meeting notice; Literacy volunteers; Food Sense Package from the Food Bank and the location of the St. Alphonsus Food Pantry; SS’s Peter & John clothes closet; pregnancy care center of Cayuga County; Catholic Charities for parents and parents to be; Mercy Adult Medical Day program, and Health Screening via Cayuga County Cancer Services program.

The Salvation Army 

Majors Dennis & Karen Smullen, Corps Officers at the Salvation Army, operate a Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry. The Soup Kitchen is open every Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and serves a free, full-balanced, hot meal. The Food Pantry is open from Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., but is willing to serve those in need if they are in an emergency or need to make a special appointment. Clients are served one time a month unless an emergency is documented. Day old breads, pastries, as well as fruits and vegetables, are given away every day when available to anyone in need. The Salvation Army Food pantry has agreed, along with St Alphonsus, First Love and Calvary Food Pantries, to serve only certain geographic areas, thus avoiding local duplication of service. The Salvation Army also operates a Seniors Lunch, serving a hot, well-balanced meal on Thursdays at noon. The suggested donation for the Seniors Lunch is $3.50. The program includes four areas: Worship, Education, Service, and Fellowship, and averages thirty participants a week. The Salvation Army does not receive any funding from the United Way or Food Bank of CNY to operate this program. 

On Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m., the Salvation Army operates  a new program - Sonday’s Cool, where it serves a free, hot, well-balanced meal, with a special program to follow for about thirty people per week. The program operates in a family setting with a four-fold emphasis: Worship, Education, Service and Fellowship. The goal is to get families sitting together for a meal and then to provide activities that will enrich their lives.  At present, some of the adults do leave the program at 5:45PM to attend adult Bible Study. This is another program that the Salvation Army operates without any funding from the United Way or Food Bank of CNY. 

Western Cayuga County Food Pantry

The Western Cayuga County Food Pantry is located at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Union Springs, New York.  For about 40 years, the pantry has been serving the Union Springs School District, a large geographical area, including Union Springs, Cayuga, and parts of Aurelius, Fleming, Scipio, and Ledyard.  The food pantry is open to serve clients 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.  It is run by six very dedicated volunteers who receive no pay for their hard work. This year, the pantry  has begun to grow fresh vegetables for their customers on a plot of land at the Union Springs Academy. With the hard work of six volunteers, they hope to increase the amount of fresh vegetables offered at the Western Cayuga Food Pantry. The pantry is one of two Food $en$e sites in Cayuga County.  Once a month, the food pantry takes orders and distributes fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and groceries. Food $en$e offers the opportunity to stretch a food budget by purchasing nutritious food at a discount.  For $15.50, paid in advance, families get 13-15 items ( a $30.00 value ).  Food $en$e is made possible through the Food Bank of Central New York.  

    Contact Info:    


Site I – Administrative Offices, Domestic Violence Services, Energy Services,Family Developmet, Healthy Families
phone: 315-255-1703
    Site 2 -Early Childhood Development
phone: 315-252-0038
phone: 315-539-5647
    NYSCAA helping the
web development by:
connect with us on Facebook donate