United Against Poverty (UP) was founded in 2003 by Austin and Ginny Hunt, who opened the first Member Share Grocery Program to address hunger relief along Florida’s Treasure Coast. As the popularity of the first Vero Beach location quickly grew, UP expanded its footprint to reach more families in need. The St. Lucie UP Center, located in Fort Pierce, opened its doors in 2009 with the mission to serve those in poverty by providing crisis care, case management, transformative education, food and household subsidy, employment training and placement, personal empowerment training and active referrals to other collaborative social service providers.
Currently we serve an average of 500+ persons every day through the following programs: 1.) Emergency food assistance and crisis care, 2.) Counseling and case management, 3.) Basic education, 4.) Personal empowerment training, 5.) Job skills training and mentoring, 6.) Job placement help and ongoing coaching, 7.) Member Share Grocery Program, and 8.) Collaborative partner services. We differ from other organizations by having a holistic approach to collaboration. It takes the community partners working together with their own unique knowledge and expertise with the family at the center to break the cycle of poverty for our residents. In addition, our philosophical approach focuses on helping people help themselves; offering hope and a hand up, rather than a hand out. Helping families to see their unlimited potential and to find the strength to overcome the situational barriers poverty creates. UP Center programs serve those whose household income is below 200% of poverty to access programs that 1.) Improve their income, 2.) Lift them to self-sufficiency and 3.) Provide food products and household essentials with savings up to 70%.