Frequently Asked Questions
Besides the food pantry, what other services does the Samaritan Center provide?
In addition to food, the Samaritan Center offers free of charge, clothing, medical and dental care, legal care, tax assistance program, utility assistance and prescription assistance. The center also provides cooking and nutrition classes, Book Buddies (a literacy program for children and their parents), school supplies, electric box fans, Christmas adoption programs, Easter baskets, children’s summer enrichment programs, and help with any other human need that is not addressed by other charitable, state or federal programs.
How large of an operation is the Samaritan Center and where does it rank statewide?
The Samaritan Center is the fourth largest food pantry in the state, based on the amount of people we serve, according to the Missouri Division of Family Services, which lists 270 food pantries statewide. The Samaritan Center food pantry filled 10,396 food orders in 2003. Since January, 2000, the Samaritan Center has provided service to more than 8,599 unique households. Including heads of household, 2,617 spouses and 11,598 dependents, the Samaritan Center served a total of 22,814 persons in three years.
Where does the Samaritan Center get its food?
The Samaritan Center gets food three ways: Local food drives and donations are the source of the majority of the canned foods and dry goods provided by the Samaritan Center. Food drives, such as the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive and Scouting for Food, as well as donations from local schools, churches and businesses, keep the pantry going. The center receives government commodities and Second Harvest goods through the Central Missouri Food Bank. And financial donations are used to purchase other items locally such as meat, eggs, butter, laundry soap and toilet paper. In 2003 the Samaritan Center spent $141,858.24 on food.
What are the hours of operation?
The food pantry is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and again on Thursday evening from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The staff is in the building from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
2. Families Served
How many families does the Samaritan Center serve monthly?
In 2003 we served an average of 866 families a month.
Are all Samaritan Center clients welfare recipients?
No. Less than 5% are on welfare.
What is the profile of an average family served by the Samaritan Center?
A single parent with two or three children is the typical family that comes to the Samaritan Center for help. These single parents are typically working minimum wage jobs and receive no child support. We also serve a number of elderly and/or disabled persons.
How can a family receive services from the Samaritan Center?
The first step to determine eligibility for services is verification that they are either low-income or experiencing a medical emergency or crisis that has left them temporarily in need of help.
USDA commodities are given to families once a month. We recommend that they only come once a month for pantry food also. However, we add that we do not want the children to be hungry so they should come back if they have a need. Families may receive financial assistance (for example, when they have a disconnect notice for their utilities) once every 12 months.
Who is eligible to use the Ossman Free Medical and Dental Clinic?
Anyone who is at 125% of the federal poverty guidelines and does not have any medical insurance may get medical and dental clinic services.
How many people work at the Samaritan Center?
More than 600 people volunteer at the Samaritan Center including the Executive Director, Marylyn DeFeo. There are four paid employees.
How can someone become a Samaritan Center volunteer?
Volunteer by coming in and filling out a volunteer form or calling the office at 634-7776.
If I volunteer at the Center, what type of work would I be doing?
Volunteers perform a variety of duties. Most of our volunteers work in the pantry filling food orders. Other volunteers work in the warehouse sorting food and stocking the pantry while others work in the clothes closet sorting and organizing newly arrived clothing. We have volunteers who do computer intake, answer the phones and pick up food. Some volunteers donate their time for special events such as the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive or the Christmas Adopt-A-Family program. Currently our biggest need is for help in the afternoons.
What volunteer jobs are available in the clinic?
The clinic needs more dentists and doctors.
Does the Samaritan Center take clothing?
Yes. On the first week of each month we take seasonal clothes. We no longer accept shoes, purses, belts or underwear. All clothing is made available to our clients free of charge.
Does the Samaritan Center take furniture or other items?
No, but we do accept pots & pans, dishes, silverware, sheets, pillows and blankets. We are unable to take furniture and appliances due to lack of storage space. We recommend that donors call the Mission office (635-7239), as they need furniture for refugees or the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.
How can I make a donation or memorial?
You can make a donation by sending your check to Samaritan Center, P.O. Box 1687, Jefferson City, MO 65102-1687. Indicate if it is a memorial by attaching the deceased person’s name and family’s address so a card can be sent on your behalf. All donations are tax deductible.
What is Samaritan Center’s greatest need right now?
Prayers, financial donations and volunteers - particularly dentists and doctors, are the center’s biggest needs right now. Call us at 573-634-7776 for more information.
The Samaritan Center is an interfaith agency providing food, clothing, utility assistance and a variety of other services to people in need in our community. We recognize the dignity of all persons and strive to treat all who come to us for help with respect.
A Brief History of Jefferson City’s Samaritan Center
Although the Center now operates in a state-of-the art facility, that hasn’t always been the case. The Center’s humble beginnings can be traced to a day in 1987 when volunteers led by Marylyn DeFeo set up a shelving unit for food and a rack of clothes in part of a classroom at Immaculate Conception School. In the beginning, the Center served 15 needy families.
During the historical floods of 1993 and 1995 the Samaritan Center played a pivotal role in coordinating services and assisting people all across mid-Missouri. As the need for services grew, so too did the need for expanded facilities.
In 1999, with the use of Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits, and through the generosity of many in the community who donated money, labor and materials, the Center moved into its new, debt-free facility.
The Samaritan Center sits in the heart of community where more than 80-percent of neighborhood children have family incomes so low they qualify for free or reduced school lunches. The agency continues to serve people who are elderly, disabled, and those who are generally self-sufficient, but have encountered some sort of crisis. The largest segment of the Center’s service population is single parents who face the day-to-day struggles of trying to provide for their children.
Although the Center has witnessed many changes, its core characteristics have stayed constant. Volunteers remain the backbone of the Samaritan Center, still led by DeFeo, who serves as volunteer executive director. And the Samaritan Center is sill committed to serving people in need, recognizing the dignity of all people and striving to treat each person who comes through the door with respect.