First established in 1980, Your Neighbors, Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised of volunteers from area churches, synagogues, businesses and social service and civic organizations who reach out to the homebound in the Greater Utica Area, the majority of whom are the frail elderly and/or disabled and who often lack the support of friends and family members. These volunteers serve those in our community who are the most vulnerable and in need of assistance to ensure their health and well-being are maintained with a sufficient level of independence.
The meals portion of the program operates much like a food bank but all meals are pre-prepared, packaged and frozen for reheating when needed. Individuals, congregations and civic organizations volunteer to prepare the individual meals which are then stored at area freezer locations. The client need only to reheat the meals to enjoy a healthy, home-cooked dinner. In the twelve months between July 2017 and June 2018, 4,030 meals and 1,478 containers of soup were distributed to 290 homebound clients, representing a substantial increase over previous years. Using the federal guidelines of $2 per prepared meal with an adjusted $1 per soup, the cost totals $9,538 annually.
In addition to annual fundraising events, other revenue sources are vital to Your Neighbors, Inc.’s ability to provide for the growing need for healthy meals at no cost to the client. In the past year, the agency has sought, and received, donations from the community, local congregations of all denominations, grant funders including The Community Foundation of Oneida & Herkimer Counties, the Emergency Food & Shelter Program and the annual State Employees Federated Appeal; however, as the number of meal requests has doubled over the past few years, additional funding is very much needed and always deeply appreciated.