Community Partner Spotlight: Helping Hands Food Pantry: The Janice Preschel Project in Teaneck

Karen is the passionate, enthusiastic Director of Helping Hands Food Pantry: The Janice Preschel Project in Teaneck. What began as a small pantry seventeen years ago now serves 500-700 families per month, sustained entirely by the efforts of volunteers.  

“We work 24/7, eight days a week,” Karen emphasized.  

In 2010, Karen lost her job and found herself on the line at Helping Hands Food Pantry. She offered her services as a volunteer to keep busy and help out until she got back on her feet, but she remains there to this day – an essential part of the pantry’s operation. Now, she works full-time in the medical field while running the organization.  

At the beginning of the pandemic, Helping Hands lost its founding director to COVID-19. That’s why the pantry added “The Janice Preschel Project” as part of its name. 

“I’m going to keep her legacy – this project – continuing for as long as I have support,” Karen said, teary-eyed. 

Helping Hands Food Pantry has been a Community FoodBank of New Jersey partner for thirteen years. The organization is a Network Investment Grant recipient, having used the funds provided for a new computer system.  

“This is a community effort, and we are so grateful and blessed to have a partnership with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey,” Karen told us.  

The pantry also gives out turkeys and other holiday food to provide special Thanksgiving meals for families who might otherwise go without. 

“Especially now with the prices of protein going up, this helps people immensely for the holidays,” Karen said. “To be able to contribute to their tables is the best gift of giving.” 

When asked what advice she has for those who want to make a difference in their communities, like she does, she told us: “Smile, be kind, and let’s keep giving back.”