Hand Up Project was established in 2016 as a 501-c3 public charity and the only LGBTQ2SIA+ lead food assistance program open to the public in Portland. Our mission is to empower the disenfranchised with the resources needed to improve their lives. and a vision to create a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages and assists persons of all colors, age, sexual orientation, gender expressions, and beliefs to prosper and succeed by rebuilding their self-esteem, rejuvenating their motivation, and revitalizing their commitment towards a higher quality of living, thereby creating a better community, one family at a time. Coming together over food has always been a natural way of building community. We find providing emergency food services allows us to form a bond that turns into friendship and trust, thus more productive interactions with participants. Our program starts by addressing the most basic human need, food. We see food as medicine and good nutrition vital for both our mental and physical health. Food is one of the building blocks of life. You literally are what you eat. Without good materials to build a strong foundation, the stresses of our environment and poor or no food choices soon cause our body and mind to weaken leading to both mental and physical complications. Hand Up Projects-The People’s Pantry Emergency Food Project offers a “shopping style” pantry, which preserves dignity by offering a choice of food staples. This model also caters to the individual’s personal and culturally specific dietary needs as donations allow; all while avoiding food waste from “cookie cutter” style food boxes. We believe in “Being the change You want to see”, that's why The People's Pantry welcomes everyone; however, we cater to the BIPOC and LGBTQ2SIA+ community, experiencing higher rates of food insecurities. Traditionally most food programs are run by religious organizations. We all know the LGBTQ2SIA+ community have long been judged and ostracized for being their true selves. That’s why we see this work as vital to help bridge the systemic gap in healthy food access. We pride ourselves in providing a safe non-judgmental atmosphere, making certain everyone is treated with respect and kindness.