Emergency Assistance

Our program responds to the basic human needs of people in our community who are struggling financially or live in poverty. Direct services include the Community Food Pantry, the medication assistance program, infant supplies, and shelter emergency assistance. Other seasonal projects include the summer lunch program for children, school supplies for kids, and the annual Christmas Baskets which provides complete holiday meals for many local families each year.

While working with our staff, people using this service are referred to other community programs that may be able to assist them on an ongoing, longer-term basis. They can also apply for Food Stamps and/or meet with a health insurance expert who assists with plan enrollment while at the Food Pantry.


Our emergency services serve people who are experiencing crisis or emergency. People who have recently become unemployed, have no jobs or receive public benefits frequently use our services. Some services do not require any application process or documentation, and others have some eligibility and application criteria.

  • The Community Food Pantry is available to any Cortland County resident who needs food once per month. Our Food Pantry also supplies personal care products such as soap, shampoo, and toilet paper. Infant formula and diapers are also available.
  • The Medication Assistance Program is available to people who do not have health care insurance coverage to pay for the medicine they must have. Only medically necessary prescription medications qualify for this one time payment.
  • Services for people with housing and shelter emergencies vary, but can include help with utility shut off, eviction, or security deposits. Generally, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can access this service. Eligibility for some shelter programs also requires participants to be income eligible and can provide ongoing rental assistance.


There is no cost to consumers for our emergency assistance services.


Community Food Pantry: Clients are served on a walk-in basis with no appointments needed and is open regularly Monday-Friday. Consumers receive enough food for 9 meals at each visit.

Prescription Medication Assistance: This program can pay up to 30 days supply of important medications for individuals with no health insurance coverage for that medication. Clients must have a valid prescription in hand when they come to the office.

Shelter Assistance: This program is available as a last resort and applicants must apply for other benefits from the Department of Social Services, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) before our resources can be used.

Summer Lunch Program: This FREE program serves lunch to school aged children Monday - Friday at sites throughout Cortland County including: Suggett, Randall, and Dexter Parks in the City of Cortland, at the YWCA, the Salvation Army and McGraw Schools.

Program Expectations:

People using these services are expected to apply for their benefits and entitlements, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid, and access alternative resources available in the community before returning to us with additional requests for help.


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