Samaritan Center is a nonprofit 501c3, interfaith effort of community members committed to serving the hungry and those in need in order to promote their welfare dignity and self-sufficiency.
It is rooted in the belief that sound nutrition is the first step in enabling people to cope and become productive, self-sufficient members of society.
For over 41 years, Samaritan Center has worked to fight hunger in the greater Syracuse community by providing nutritious hot meals to anyone in need 7 days a week – no questions asked. Paired with these meals is the case management support and access to services that help our guests move on to a more positive future.
Our guests include the young and the not so young, those who are well educated and those who are not, people whose lives are bound by the prison of substance abuse, people who are well and those who face the challenge of illness. Men, women and children who have in common their humanity, their poverty and their sincere gratitude for a place of safety and warmth and a nutritious meal offered
every day of the year.
Samaritan Center offers hot meals 365 days a year without preconditions or questions, serving more than 65,000 meals annually with the help of over 800 community volunteers a month who prepare and serve meals, collect and distribute toiletries, make and distribute sandwiches and work on volunteer committees.
The Center also provides direct case management as well as on-site access to information about and referrals to services and programs in the community of interest to its guests - services which provide resources, hope and opportunity for a better future.
The fundamental model followed is one of collaborating, teaching and connecting with the rich human service network in the community rather than trying to replicate or duplicate those services in-house.
Samaritan Center began in 1981 when seven city churches responded to the closing of Unity Kitchen, to the general public. With high numbers of homeless and other food insecure people suddenly without emergency food services, these churches organized to provide daily bag lunches at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on Montgomery Street.
From these humble beginnings, Samaritan has developed into an independent organization: unaffiliated with any faith, embracing all faiths (and no faith at all) offering hot, nutritious meals daily for those in need.
Samaritan Center ran completely as a volunteer operation in its early years and while encountering numerous challenges related to funding its work and coordinating the many volunteers required to meet its mission. In the early 1990’s, Samaritan leadership formalized the Center’s structure to provide a sustainable platform for the services being provided.
In 1994, Samaritan Center obtained 501c3 status as a nonprofit providing food and assistance to those in need in the Central New York Community.
In 2015, Samaritan purchased and moved to the former St. John the Evangelist Church on Syracuse's near-Northside. This move allowed the organization to serve more meals and provide more services for those struggling in poverty in our community. True to the parable on which the Center is named, all are called here to love their neighbor and honor the inherent value and worth of each of us.
The original dedication of the local community to serve those in need continues today. True to its roots, Samaritan Center exists as an expression of humanity, kindness, dignity, generosity, and a desire to help those less fortunate. Through Samaritan, individuals and groups alike, whether a guest or volunteer, find a place of acceptance, connection, hope and family. Some are called by faith, some by service, some by need – but all feel the obligation to help each other during what can sometimes be a challenging road.
How You Can Help
• Sponsor a meal or plan an activity for your youth group, business or civic organization. Contact Amy at [email protected]