The primary goal of CAO's Emergency Services Division is to assess and provide short-term assistance to individuals and families during an emergency or crisis that threatens their ability to maintain basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter. The program provides information, referrals and financial assistance (based on budget available) to eligible households, following an assessment and in accordance with our emergency assistance guidelines.
phone: 716-881-5150 ext 4772
Nutrition Assistance Programs
The CAO nutrition assistance program has been providing needy Buffalo families and individuals with access to nutritious food items for more than 25 years at our main food pantry located at 70 Harvard Place. Unfortunately, poverty's reach has spread far and wide and as a result, that need has now stretched to the suburban and rural communities of Erie County.
In addition to receiving food, upon each visit each family is asked to complete a questionnaire to determine their eligibility for other CAO services or programs and services offered through or partnering agencies. They are then assigned a Family Development Credentialed case worker who through strength based analysis, will assist in meeting their needs, which often include, but are not limited to: clothing assistance; medical insurance assistance; prescription assistance; WIC; food stamps; flu shots; dental health; diabetes testing; child care; HEAP; furniture assistance; mental health assessment; budgeting and financial literacy education and emergency home repair assistance. This process is designed to bring the most vital human needs services right to the doorstep of the client, since on of the biggest hurdles in combating rural poverty is lack of accessibility.
Our current nutrition assistance programs sites are located at the 70 Harvard Place in Buffalo, the Lackawanna Municipal Housing Authority Resource Center in Lackawanna and the JFK Community Center in Buffalo.
Emergency Services Mobile Food Pantry Program
In an effort to broaden the reach of our nutrition assistance initiative, in 2012 the Emergency Services Division launched a Mobile Food Pantry program, with pop up sites across rural parts of southern Erie County to provide easy access to programs and services within the most impoverished and underserved communities. Each family is allowed to utilize the mobile food pantry program once in a 30 day period and is provided with a 3-5 day supply of nutritious food items. In addition to receiving food, upon each visit each family is asked to complete a questionnaire to determine their eligibility for other CAO services or programs and services offered through or partnering agencies. They are then assigned a Family Development Credentialed case worker who through strength based analysis, will assist in meeting their needs, which often include, but are not limited to: clothing assistance; medical insurance assistance; prescription assistance; WIC; food stamps; flu shots; dental health; diabetes testing; child care; HEAP; furniture assistance; mental health assessment; budgeting and financial literacy education; free tax preparation and emergency home repair assistance. Each family is screened for work supports provided by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) using the OTDA My Benefits analysis as well as the New York. This process is designed to bring the most vital human needs services right to the doorstep of the client, since on of the biggest hurdles in combating rural poverty is lack of accessibility.
Emergency Food Delivery Program
This program was launched in 2013 to assist low-income seniors and disabled individuals with obtaining the nutritious food items that they need to sustain themselves.
Once a month, our Emergency Food Delivery Program staff delivers a bag of groceries to home-bound and disabled individuals who are unable to visit a food pantry in their community. Bags are delivered on Wednesdays. A note from a doctor may be required before a delivery schedule is set up. This program is essentially designed for clients who are able to prepare their own meals but lack the mobility to utilize a traditional food pantry. Each client is provided about a 3 day supply of food. Clients are encouraged to first try to arrange for a family member or neighbor to pick up food for them from the food pantry because home delivery bags are not personalized and food pantries can usually offer a larger selection of items. The majority of the clients enrolled in this program are referred by one of our partnering agencies.
Volunteer Income Tax Preparation
(VITA) is a free service that is offered during each annual tax season to assist low and moderate-income individuals and families with free tax preparation.
VITA services include free Federal, State, IT 214 and Earned Income Tax Credit preparation. Your taxes can be electronically filed and the refund transferred right into your bank account. If you do not have a bank account, an Emergency Services staff member can assist you with opening an account. Your refund may also be mailed to your home address.
Please call 480-5153 to schedule an appointment.
Household Establishment Program
Families who have experienced an extreme crisis such as a house fire or a natural disaster or who are relocating from a transitional housing program may be eligible for the CAO Household Establishment program. This program assists with furniture, appliances and/or basic household items.
For eligibility requirements please call at 881-5150 ext. 4768
Clothing & Personal Care Item Pantry
New and gently used men's women's and children's clothing items are available to low income families, job seekers or those experiencing an extreme need. Customers are welcomed to five clothing items per family member. Families may visit once in a 90 day period.
Open Wednesdays from 10am-2pm
70 Harvard Place, Buffalo
Please call 881-5150 ext. 4768 for eligibility requirements.
Baby Needs Pantry
Caring for a new addition can be stressful and costly. Some parents face having to choose between diapers and other basic needs like food. With the help of the Food Bank of WNY, our baby needs pantry is designed to assist low-income families with baby formula, baby food, diapers and other basic necessities (subject to availability.)
Families may visit once in a 30 day period.
70 Harvard Place, Buffalo
By appointment. Please call 881-5150 ext. 4768
Residents of 14208 & 14209
(clients residing in other zip codes need a referral)
Emergency Preparedness Training
Do you know what to do to help keep your family safe in an emergency? Would you know what supplies you need in case the power goes out or what documents you should have on hand if you need to evacuate your home? CAO in collaboration with the Greater Buffalo Area Red Cross Chapter to educate community residents, youth, seniors, parents, block clubs and faith based organizations on the three basic rules of emergency preparedness: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed.
Crisis Services/Case Management
Our staff of credentialed Family Development workers work closely with our customers to help them towards the goal of self-sufficiency. Each family is screened to determine eligibility for other CAO services or programs as well as services offered through our partner agencies. These services include, but are not limited to: medical insurance assistance, prescription assistance, HEAP, food stamps (SNAP), day care, WIC, Unclaimed Funds, flu shots, employment assistance, dental health, medical screenings, mental health assessment, and emergency home repair assistance.
Contact: Charlene Morris 881-5150 ext 4768
Community Outreach, Intake & Referral Network
(pairs income qualifying area residents with available services that are available throughout Erie County).
Assistance with applying for programs and services including:
Food Stamps, HEAP, Weatherization, WIC, Daycare, TNAF, Temporary Assistance, School Meals, Unemployment Insurance and Health Insurance.
Financial Literacy Training & IDA Savings Program.
The CAO IDA Program combines financial education and a match on savings towards an asset goal of home ownership, business ownership or higher education. Participants can save up to $750. Savings are matched 4:1, so up to $750 of savings are matched with $3,000 for a total of $3,750.
Individuals who are interested in participating in this program must meet one of the following criteria:
-Household income is at or below 200% of federal poverty.
-Participant is EITC eligible and has a household net worth of less than $10,000.
-For an application, please call 881-5150 ext. 3301
Community Action Angels
The Community Action Angels Program is dedicated to assisting The Community Action organization of Erie County, Inc. in their efforts to meet the needs of the low income and the disadvantaged population by providing volunteers that will bring to this agency resource from the community to meet those needs.
The Community Action Angels program sponsors several year round community initiatives including: Holiday Toy Assistance, Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, School Supply/Backpack Giveaway, Project Warmth (hat, scarf & glove drive), Holiday Food Boxes, Haircuts for Kids and Child ID Kit Events.