Being True to Our Roots…..
We feed people who are hungry….
And we do it well.

Samaritan Center began in 1981 as the response of seven Syracuse city churches to the closing of Unity Kitchen, an area soup 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 St..  St. Paul’s opened its doors to act as a distribution point for services not only because of its central city location, but also because of its pre-existing commitment to serving the hungry through a weekly lunch distribution program.  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.

Our Mission

The Samaritan Center is an interfaith effort of community members who are committed to serving the hungry and those in need in Central New York in order to promote their welfare, dignity and self-sufficiency.

Our Vision

To create a caring community where those who are hungry find support, opportunity and independence through service, partnerships and advocacy.

Samaritan ran completely as a volunteer operation in its early years and, not unpredictably, encountered 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 in order to provide a sustainable platform for the services being provided.  In 1994, Samaritan Center obtained 501c3 status as a not-for-profit 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 has allowed the organization to serve more meals and provide more services for those struggling in poverty on 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 in each of us.

The core values of the Samaritan Center are still followed today.

No Questions Asked

Samaritan Center offers hot meals 365 days a year without preconditions or questions, serving more than 118,000 meals annually with the help of over 1100 community volunteers a month who prepare and serve meals, collect and distribute toiletries and make and distribute sandwiches. 

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’s success is in large part based in its focus on core competencies and skills- put simply, we feed people who are hungry and we do it well.

& the desire to help those less fortunate.

The original dedication of the local community to serve the hungry and those in need through the Samaritan Center continues today-34 years later.  True to its roots, Samaritan Center exists as an expression of this humanity, kindness, dignity, self-respect, generosity and desire to help those less fortunate.  Through Samaritan, individuals and groups alike, whether guest or volunteer, find a place of acceptance, connection, hope and family.   Some are called by faith, some by service, some by need – all feel in their heart the obligation to help each other along this sometimes challenging road of life.