How The Samaritan Center Has Handled The Pandemic

The Samaritan Center, located here in Syracuse, New York is a non-profit organization in our community. For over forty years the Samaritan Center has served meals to those in need to make sure “no one goes hungry,” which is their motto. This year, the Samaritan Center had to undergo many changes throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic to ensure that nobody will go hungry.

In previous years, the Samaritan Center would accept many volunteers from a wide spread of ages. The volunteers would complete tasks to make the process of serving meals run smoothly and efficient. Some of the tasks included dishwashing, cooking, meal prep, serving, etc… When the guests would come in to get their meal, they’d be welcomed to sit at a table to enjoy their food.

Last March, when things started to shut down, the Samaritan Center had many obstacles to work around and create a new system, in order to make sure everyone stayed safe and healthy. With the help of volunteers and other organizations like Meals on Wheels, the Food Bank of CNY, and many others, the people of the Samaritan Center were able to continue their service. The amount of volunteers at one time has been scaled back, five for meal service and three for meal prep. As of right now, volunteers must be eighteen or older. Another change is that it’s switched to strictly takeout. The development director, Karen Belgrader said, “Our goal is to continue to provide uninterrupted meal service for the vulnerable folks we serve while maintaining appropriate health and safety measures. Since the transition, things are going smoothly and scheduled meal times are unchanged. Our guests are appreciative and grateful that meals are still available but they are missing the conversation and Samaritan Center family of friends.”

Despite all of the changes and challenges that the past year brought, Belgrader says, “While the pandemic has brought fear, grief, loss of jobs, uncertainty and continual change, it has also brought innovation, courage and gratitude.” Many people are using these times to help out and give back. Belgrader also says, “We have experienced overwhelming joy at the outpouring of humanity – of neighbor helping neighbor, of innovative responses by government, nonprofits and communities to bring food into neighborhoods and ensure our community’s children and seniors were fed. We each experienced isolation and loss, as well as a profound recognition of the importance of human connection.” With all of the help from donations and volunteers, over 104,000 meals were served just during the pandemic. Currently, if you’re interested in helping at the Samaritan Center, there is information regarding how to do so on their website. (https://www.samcenter.org/