Manville nonprofit asks for help serving the community

Manville nonprofit asks for help serving the community

Bruce Bates, an original board member of The Genesis Project, at the nonprofit’s food pantry located at 11 Winter St. in Manville. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – The Genesis Project, a Manville-based food pantry, first opened its doors to the community in May of 2011 and has since served more than 120,000 pounds of food to local families in need. If a pound of food equals one meal, the nonprofit agency has helped feed the same number of people across seven years of operation, distributing more than 60 tons of food.

The volunteer-run food share program, based out of 11 Winter St. in Lincoln, is open every other weekend from 9 to 11 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. For $5, members of the community who may be struggling to make ends meet can leave with five or six grocery bags filled to the brim with food, including frozen meats and an assortment of desserts and snack foods. There’s dog food and treats for four-legged friends.

The Genesis Project is not subsidized by the government or other large corporations, instead relying on its network of community partners to supply the bulk of the food. The $5 contribution, as well as monetary donations from businesses and individuals in the community, help the nonprofit keep its lights on and pay rent.

“We ask those who come to make a small contribution if possible, but we never deny food,” said the Rev. Bruce Bates, a founding board member of The Genesis Project and minister at the Blackstone Valley Church of Christ. “It helps us to defray some of our costs. Though we were very nervous instituting it, 95 percent of the people had no problem with it and considered it worth the value to continue to do that in order to help us continue to keep our doors open.”

Bates said the nonprofit’s top need is financial, with almost 100 percent of the food donated without cost. Its budget is roughly $6,000 to $8,000 annually, “very little for all that we do,” according to Bates. The Genesis Project has food supply lines set up through sources including Target, Peapod, local churches and a network of other food pantries.

In addition to the food share program, The Genesis Project has a clothing closet where clothing items for adults and children are on sale for prices ranging from 50 cents for a T-shirt to $3 for winter coats. Often, Bates said, they’ll sell someone all the clothes he or she can stuff into a bag for $5. The closet could use donations of lightly used and washed winter coats.

The Genesis Project was founded in 2011 by Rodney Simonini to assist residents of Northern Rhode Island who were struggling to stretch their grocery bill. At the time, the majority of the food pantries and related resources were based in Providence, so Simonini and Bates decided to primarily serve people in their communities of Lincoln and Cumberland.

Since then, the number of people using the food share program has fluctuated, according to Bates. On average, between 70 and 100 people are served by The Genesis Project on any given weekend.

“We’re here to serve our community, and we’re thankful for those who help us continue to do so,” said Bates. “Sharing food is love. It’s a great way to love your neighbor in a very simple way.”

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