Up and down the Route 1 corridor near Trenton, hotels and motels have filled up with Mercer County families who were thrown into financial instability and then homelessness by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On any given night, Lawrenceville-based HomeFront can house 450 people, but their facility quickly reached capacity and the organization had to work to relocate area residents who needed shelter.

Many of the rooms where these families have ended up are not equipped with amenities to handle even the most basic cooking operations.

"One of the problems of being in a motel is, how the hell do you get food? So many of the motels don't even have a microwave available," Connie Mercer, founder and CEO of HomeFront, said.

So with an eye toward feeding the suddenly homeless, as well as propping up local restaurants struggling to stay open, HomeFront launched an initiative it calls "Double Helpings."

The idea was to purchase food from restaurants, thereby supplying those employees with work, then deliver that food to sheltering families.

And while this was initially designed to be small in scale, it has already expanded to the point where nearly 300 meals a week are now being prepared, which Mercer said is "a glorious thing."

In addition to distributing ready-to-eat meals, Double Helpings does once-a-week delivery of food pantry-type items like cereal, canned protein, and stable milk.

To handle all the added volume, HomeFront entered into partnerships with community groups like Lawrenceville Main Street and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, as well as NRG Energy.

The duality of Double Helpings' mission is not lost on Mark Herrmann, NRG vice president of market operations, who mentioned his company's positiveNRG program is matching all employee donations.

"Being able to see the help and provide the help inside the local communities was key, and being able to do that in a time and a manner that was safe," Herrmann said.

HomeFront's Women's Initiative is also providing funding, according to Mercer.

To find out more, get involved, or donate, click here.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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