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The Rhode Island Spotlight

Meeting the Need

Feeding the multitudes has taken on added meaning as Rhode Island's economy continues to struggle. Three times a week, a truck loaded with food and clothes heads out from area churches to help people in Providence and Woonsocket who need it the most. Patterned after a national program, this local outreach continues to grow - as it meets a growing need.


The truck is running 15 minutes late on this snowy Saturday, but those gathered at a park in  Woonsocket never doubted it would arrive.

That's because week-in and week-out - volunteers have come with food and clothes for those who need it the most. Social Park is the first of what will be four stops, along with a church a few blocks over, a women's shelter near downtown and a housing project in the city's north end.

Robertson: ``They know we're coming. They're waiting for us.''

Debbie Robertson coordinates the truck runs for her church, Barrington United Methodist - which partners with six other churches to form the Rhode Island operation of a national program out of Texas.  It's called Mobile Loaves and Fishes and was founded more than a decade ago.

Barrington Methodist, like most of its counterparts, covers three runs during its rotation: not only to Woonsocket on Saturdays, but to Burnside Park and several other locations in Providence on Sunday afternoons  and Wednesday nights.

Hummel: ``Is there a common thread that you see of volunteers coming through the door?''

Robertson: ``I think that at this point in time people realize it's not just homeless people we're feeding. It's the working hungry. They're not invisible anymore.''

Besides Barrington Methodist, the Rhode Island contingent includes St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bristol, St. John's Episcopal in Barrington, The First Unitarian Church on the East Side of Providence, St. Luke's Catholic Church in Barrington, Open Table of Christ in South Providence and St.

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