“The founder of local nonprofit organization tells 12 News that they’ve helped a record number of families put food on the table since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last March.
Project Hand Up, created several years ago by Coreen St. Jean, is a food supplement program that offers a variety of products in exchange for a $6 donation.
Right now, the organization is offering a curb side, COVID-friendly service where residents can drive up and receive their groceries from volunteers.
‘We serve everyone,’ St. Jean said. ‘We serve all of Rhode Island and Massachusetts — if they want to come this far, which a lot do.’
Mindy Horan, the vice president of the organization, tells 12 News the food is mostly donated by local stores, which include Ocean State Job Lot, Whole Foods and Traders Joes.
‘The $6 goes right back into the program, so a lot of people like that,’ Horan said. ‘It’s almost like a “pay it forward” type of thing because they know they are helping the next person.’
One year ago, St. Jean said they helped nearly 9,000 families through the program. Since the pandemic began, she said they’ve served 27,534.
When asked why she thinks a record number of families came to them for assistance, St. Jean believes it’s likely due to the significant number of people who lost their jobs.
Since people are gradually re-entering the workforce, St. Jean has noticed the demand for their services has slowed down, though it will never completely go away.”