Dutchess Outreach acts as a catalyst for community revitalization and exists in Dutchess County as an advocate and provider of hunger and relief programs in order to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to fresh, healthy food, and the support they need.

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Photo by Sean Hemmerle

Dutchess Outreach exists to widen community food security and food sovereignty, increase advocacy, and provide emergency relief by offering a range of vital programs for those in need to ensure that equitable physical and economic access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and sustainably grown food is available at all times across our community, regardless of income or zip code.

Why We Exist:

  • In 2019, 89.5 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year.

  • 1 in 4 households in the City of Poughkeepsie are considered Food Insecure. Around 26.8% of the City’s Population.

  • In Dutchess County alone 26,130 individuals suffer from Food Insecurity. That’s 8.8% of the population.

  • 46.5 Million Americans seek help from food assistance and relief programs, like Dutchess Outreach.

What is Food Access?

Determined among consumers by the spatial accessibility and affordability of food retailers—specifically such factors as travel time to shopping, availability of healthy foods, and food prices—relative to the access to transportation and socioeconomic resources of food buyers. The consistent dependability of adequate food access helps to enable food security whereby a person’s dietary needs and food preferences are met at levels needed to main a healthy and active life.

What is Food Insecurity?

In the language of the federal government, this is what we call it when a person or a family has “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire food in socially acceptable ways.”


What is Food Sovereignty?

The right of peoples to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.


Dutchess Outreach has operated emergency food access and relief programs in Dutchess County for more than 46 years. Food Banks and Food Access Centers are a fairly recent addition to our American Social Aid infrastructure and when they were first initiated, they were done so as a short-term solution to fill what they believed to be a temporary emergency need. 
In Dutchess County, 26,130 individuals suffer from Food Insecurity or around 8.8% of the population. 
Of that number, around 41% of individuals are above SNAP and other Nutrition Programs threshold of 200% poverty, and 59% fall below that threshold, rendering our services even more needed. In fact, more than 46.5 million Americans seek out assistance from organizations like Dutchess Outreach because of the lack of support that public benefit assistance programs provide. 
Additionally, more than 20 years of research proves that limited access to nutritionally dense foods occurs more frequently in low-income communities, such as the City of Poughkeepsie, and that this lack of access is directly related to higher instances of diet-related diseases such as heart disease and high cholesterol in adults and diabetes and obesity in adults and children. For this reason, it has been our mission to ensure our food supply includes fresh locally grown foods from our farming partners, and that we grow ourselves on our Urban Farm, as often as we can.  

© Mia Blas 2017

In 2020, Food Banks and Food Access Centers like Dutchess Outreach continue to help fill in the gaps, that is, the challenges that individuals and families face in fulfilling their most basic needs that have been exacerbated by widening income inequality. Now, in the face of a global pandemic and community crisis, our programs are needed more than ever and our capacity is being stretched extremely thin. The numbers we are experiencing now have more than doubled compared to what we see when we’re not in the midst of a global crisis.
Individuals and families who have never sought out our assistance, however, who could likely have used it at one point or another, have previously made the choice not to reach out to us for a hand up because of the stigma that has been attached to asking for help when you need it from programs that were created to provide that help. We’re seeing some clients who haven’t had the need to visit our pantry in over 20 years and new visitors every day. These are unprecedented times, indeed. The hardship our community is now faced with has left many with no other option. 

We’re here for it and we are here for them.


In the last year alone and through the Coronavirus pandemic, our food pantry provided more than 87,000 meals to our neighbors in need by way of grocery packages for pick up and delivery, averaging around 600 plus meals a day. Our Lunch Box hot meal program has prepared over 63,000 prepared meals to go and to the temporary housing unit shelters. That’s an average of around 300 meals daily. Thanks to our farming partners and the Nourish New York program, we were able to distribute more than 24,000 lbs of local, fresh, fruits and vegetables through all of our food access projects.  


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