The city of Utica has funded a meal box giveaway being coordinated by United Way of the Mohawk Valley. The 1,600 meal boxes are the final leg of the food distribution series funded by Utica. Utica residents in need may sign-up but should act quickly because the meal boxes go fast.

“It is important that government entities, including the city, work in collaboration with our community partners to provide assistance and resources to individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri. “I am pleased the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds are being utilized to distribute food to residents in need.

“I commend the United Way for coordinating the food distribution, as well as Casa Imports and Karam Produce for their continued support and generosity.”

The distribution will take place April 25, 2021, in a new location in east Utica. The meal box kit includes ingredients to prepare at least five meals for a family of five. The kit meal theme is Mediterranean and comes complete with just about everything needed to create the meals, including step-by-step recipe cards.

United Way has partnered with Casa Imports and Karam Produce to bring fresh produce, meat and other ingredients to families as part of their meal boxes. Each box will also include a full-size bottle of olive oil donated by Sovena, Inc.

“Casa Imports and Karam Produce is excited to again partner in United Way MV’s community outreach efforts,” said Ryan Sunderlin, Casa Import’s director of fresh produce operations. “We always appreciate the opportunity to assist local organizations to provide for families in need.”

“Eating and living a healthy lifestyle is engrained in what we do at Sovena, USA,” said Sovena USA Marketing Associate Natalie Jennings. “Now more than ever, it is important for us to help the people of our community live in healthier ways.

“Olive oil offers a healthy option to your favorite meals as it helps fight heart disease, reduces the risk of certain cancers and more. We are proud to support the work of United Way and the city of Utica by donating enough oil to supply families in need with a heart healthy ingredient.”

This is the third distribution hosted by United Way MV. A total of 4,800 meal boxes with 128,500 ready-to-make meals were given to residents as part of their Take-and-Make meal box series funded through a grant from the City of Utica out of their Community Development Block Grant CV – CARES Act as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.

“Our Take and Make food distribution series brought healthy, fresh meals to the tables of thousands of families in need,” said Erin Gutierrez Matt, United Way MV CEO. “This project is one example of how United Way brings people together, from local businesses to community members and volunteers.”

Volunteers needed

Volunteers are needed to assist in packing and distributing meal boxes April 23, 24 and 25. Safety measures will be in place, including screening for possible COVID-19 exposure and temperature checks upon arrival, limiting the number of volunteers on a shift, sanitizing between shifts and social distancing. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days leading into the event or has symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to volunteer.

Volunteers can sign-up through United Way’s Volunteers United online platform at

Register for a meal box

Take-and-Make meal boxes are available to Utica residents by reservation. Full distribution pick-up location and time details will be shared upon registration. The distribution will be a drive or walk-through style pick-up.

Families and individuals can access the registration form to reserve their meal box by texting UticaFood to 898-211, visiting, or calling 1-844-DIAL-211.

For more information on the Take-and-Make meal box series funded by Utica, visit

By martha

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