COVID relief funds buy new van for non-profit agency

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The new Dutchess Outreach van.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess Outreach in the Family Partnership Center has purchased a new Mercedes cargo van with the assistance of COVID relief funds provided by the City of Poughkeepsie.  The non-profit organization took delivery of the vehicle earlier this week.

“This is a game-changer for us,” said Dutchess Outreach Executive Director Renee Fillette.  “Until now, we relied on personal vehicles belonging to our staff and volunteers to pick up supplies or deliver meals.  During the pandemic, the need for a utility van became more apparent and we are grateful for the support of the city’s administration that helped with this vital tool.”

“The city’s administration saw the work that Dutchess Outreach did during the pandemic to help as many as possible,” Poughkeepsie City Administrator Marc Nelson said. “As they came out of the pandemic, they continued to see an increase in people needing services, many of whom reside in the city so this partnership just makes sense.” Nelson noted that the $50,000 in COVID relief money used to buy the van is the type of relief that the federal government intended when authorizing the relief bills.

Dutchess Outreach serves as a food pantry and hot meal provider (Lunch Box) while providing additional support services to those in need.  The organization works to combat food insecurity in the county.  Food insecurity, according to the executive director, is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in the household to live an active, healthy life.

  • 1 in 4 households or almost 27 percent of the population in the City of Poughkeepsie is considered food insecure.
  • In Dutchess County, 26,130 individuals suffer from food insecurity. That’s 8.8 percent of the population.
  • 7,050 children in Dutchess County are food insecure.

In the last year and through the pandemic, according to Fillette, the Dutchess Outreach food pantry provided more than 87,000 meals, many of which needed to be delivered to the clients. She noted that Dutchess Outreach put together more than 63,000 prepared meals during the pandemic.  The meals were available for pickup and many were delivered to the temporary housing shelters in the area.  The new vehicle will be placed into service to aid in meal deliveries.

The van has already been deployed to pick up approximately 1,500 pounds of food donated to Dutchess Outreach.  The food pantry, due to the increased demand, is always willing to accept donations of canned tuna, ravioli, and hash as well as jars of peanut butter and packages of macaroni and cheese.

To make a food donation to the pantry, which is open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, call 845-454-3792 or email teresa@dutchessoutreach.org to make an appointment.