Editorial: What Lies Beneath


What Lies Beneath

When one looks about and takes in the bustling commercial activity of Otsego County during the busy tourist season and anticipates the impending return of the thousands of college students who keep things humming through the “off-season,” one feels confident that Otsego County has a healthy, perhaps even vibrant, economy. And while that may be true, beneath the shiny veneer of commercial success lies a dark reality.

Otsego County, like many of its neighbors, has a poverty problem. According to statistics published by Opportunities for Otsego, Inc., a community action agency actively fighting a local “War on Poverty” since 1966, the poverty rate in Otsego County stood at 13.3 percent as of the census of 2020. Of families with a female head of household and children present, a jaw-dropping 39 percent live in poverty. And in a measurement known as the ALICE threshold, which measures households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, 29.2 percent of all Otsego County households live below that threshold.

Otsego County is certainly not alone among its neighboring counties in these staggering statistics. While Otsego is ranked as having the 28th highest poverty rate in the State, Broome County to our south is ranked third (18.54%), Montgomery County, contiguous to the north is ranked fourth (17.83%), and Delaware County is ranked 12th (16.16%). Some other nearby counties are in better shape, ranking from 31st in Chenango County (12.91%) to fifty-seventh in Madison County (8.45%).

Unfortunately, poverty is nothing new. Fortunately, Otsego County’s ranking has improved considerably over the past several years and several dedicated local organizations are working hard to make things even better. The good news is that every one of us can lend the following organizations a helping hand with our financial support.

— Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties Annually providing essential services to approximately 2,500 individuals in Otsego County, with a focus on reaching the poor and vulnerable, including the mentally ill, the economically disadvantaged and victims of abuse.
176 South Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
607-432-0061 • Charitiesccdos.org

— Cooperstown Food Pantry the largest food pantry in northern Otsego County, serving two-thirds of its population, CFP acquires, stores and distributes food and personal care items to individuals and families in need, serving 330 households in 2021.
26 Church Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326
607-547-8902 • Cooperstownfoodpantry.com

— The Family Service Association of Oneonta, New York, Inc. Founded in 1909, the FSA tended to 789 households, 1,223 adults and 777 children in 2021 providing both social services and opportunities
including clothing, emergency services, parenting resources and training.
277 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
607-432-2870 • Fsaoneontany.org

— Opportunities for Otsego, a community action agency that helps alleviate poverty and fosters
self-sufficiency through comprehensive and holistic client-centered services
3 West Broadway, Oneonta, NY 13820
607-433-8000 • Ofoinc.org

So if your pantry is overloaded with non-expired canned goods, or the vegetables you planted turned out to yield more than you can consume or you have excess time or funds, please keep these and other organizations in mind. And remember that the highest number of people living in poverty and who are suffering the most are our county’s blameless children.

One thought on “Editorial: What Lies Beneath

  1. Chris Mott

    And the grant money for high-speed internet for rural upstate New York students and residents was spent in Cooperstown for access by tourists! What a shame.

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