The Bright Morning Star Church’s food pantry lives up to its name by acting as a guiding light for many food-insecure residents in Assumption Parish. Inside the pantry, however, holds its own star: the pantry’s director, Gwendolyn Hadrick. Since the pantry’s creation in 2019, Gwendolyn’s effervescent energy has been spread to her neighbors in need every second Saturday of the month.
“I’ll never forget the first time the truck came. That’s a feeling that you never forget, of excitement and knowing that we’re going to get this food to feed somebody that’s really in need,” she said. “This is a rural area, so many people are in need: children, adults, and seniors.”
Recent statistics prove this claim, showing that 1 in 4 children and 1 in 6 individuals are food insecure in Assumption Parish. However, it’s not hard to see the need within the community surrounding the Bright Morning Star Baptist Church. Some of the homes in the area are boarded up and some are falling apart. On top of that, vegetation and access to resources are scarce.
Gwendolyn meets her neighbors in need monthly, saying “so many of them come with a smile on their face, but they’re heartbroken and hungry. If we’re able to feed somebody a good meal, that’s a blessing. I thank God that we’re able to help out our community in Assumption Parish.”
The Bright Morning Star Church’s food pantry never shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, and they don’t plan on closing their doors because of inflation, either. Gwendolyn shared that when the pantry first started, they were serving around 85 households. Now, they serve up to 110 households. Not only are first-time families getting in line, but people who sought help five to six months ago are still attending.
“The new families that are coming, they are saying that gas is so high, and food is so expensive in the store. They heard about the food bank, and they wanted to come and sign up for it,” Gwendolyn said. “It has increased a lot, you know, mainly since the cost of living has gone up.”
While plenty of people give their thanks, Gwendolyn also hears a lot of people saying how rough things are right now. To which she replies, “you’re not alone.” These wise words could not be truer in our current economic climate. It seems as if everyone, including The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, has been having to face these financial hardships in one way or another.
Gwendolyn noted the importance of donations to the Food Bank during this time, stating that donors’ gifts get put to the utmost use.
“The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is the best. It’s the amount of food and the type of food, you know,” she said. “Everything is up to par. They provide enough food to where we can make sure everybody that’s outside has groceries.”
These groceries are placed directly into recipients’ cars by Gwendolyn’s beloved volunteers. She shares that her volunteers are happy to serve and even happier to see the smiles on the people’s faces.
“It’s a great honor to do it. It is so amazing how we are helping out a lot of people in our parish,” she said. “I have had so many phone calls and texts from the people that come, that are so thankful and honored that we’re doing this for them. So, it makes you feel good.”
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