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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

SUNY Potsdam Thanks Volunteers for USDA Farmers to Families Food Distribution Program

September 22, 2020

SUNY Potsdam Recognizes Tireless Volunteers who Handed Out 150,000+ Pounds of Food to 2,000 Households Over 13 Weeks

SUNY Potsdam wrapped up its final distribution through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box Program just as the semester began. The College was proud to host a distribution site for the program to serve anyone in need, beginning in June.

Volunteers lined up in the heat and elements for 13 weeks, ultimately handing out more than 150,000 pounds of food to serve approximately 2,000 North Country households. Sponsored by the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the initiative provided free boxes of dairy, produce and meat products to anyone experiencing food insecurity.

The program was made possible thanks to the assistance of 78 volunteers, including faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the College. Community Health Internship Coordinator Sarah Lister, who oversees the SUNY Potsdam Campus Food Pantry, applied to bring the USDA program to campus. President Kristin G. Esterberg herself volunteered multiple times, and members of her staff were crucial to the endeavor—with Administrative Assistant DianeMarie Collins organizing volunteers and on-the-ground support and Chief of Staff Nicole Feml overseeing logistics and community partnerships.

“We were humbled to be able to do our part to help keep healthy meals on the table for neighbors in need here in the North Country. No family is immune from experiencing food insecurity, especially during such uncertain times. It has been wonderful to see our community pull together to help each other through,” said Dr. Esterberg.

Each week, University Police helped to direct traffic while people lined up in their vehicles. They were directed to wear masks when receiving food, while volunteers loaded it directly into their cars. Renzi Foodservice of Watertown distributed the food, and PACES Dining Services coordinated deliveries to campus. Mark Berninghausen of Squeak Creek Apiaries donated local honey both for the boxes and as a gift for volunteers. Informational pamphlets were provided for the 2020 U.S. Census by the St. Lawrence County Complete Count Committee, nutrition information was distributed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, and voter registration information was provided by the League of Women’s Voters.

Potsdam Central School generously hosted the last distribution of the summer in the high school parking lot, as the campus was busy with testing and move-in for residential students.

Anyone continuing to face food insecurity is encouraged to contact your local neighborhood center. For contact information and a list, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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