Shepherd’s Market, as its name suggests, provides food to those in need and follows the three responsibilities of the Shepherd: lead by offering guidance, make sure those under its care are fed, nourished, and nurtured, and tend to those who need to be restored to fullness of health.
The shepherd’s second and arguably the most important responsibility is to make sure those under its care are fed, nourished, and nurtured. This is in full force at Shepherd’s Market, a client choice pantry where clients can select foods from shelves much like a shopping experience in a store. Clients are allotted a certain number of pounds of food based on household size.
“We serve the first 45 families that come through,” says Theresa Sandifer, director of Shepherd’s Market. “And if they come in a little late, we give them an emergency bag and we tell them when they can come back.”
No client is turned away at Shepherd’s Market. If a client is out of the pantry’s service area or they may not have all the needed paperwork to qualify for USDA-supplied food, the client is able to select from food choices purchased by Shepherd’s Market. Even though the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank supplies 20,000 pounds of food per month, the need far outweighs the supply. Through grants and donations made to Shepherd’s Market, additional food is purchased to fill the gap to meet the need.
This one pantry provides food for an estimated 400 clients in just one month in East Baton Rouge Parish. To meet this need, food is distributed twice per month. One food distribution is solely product from USDA which clients must meet criteria to receive. The second food distribution is product purchased by Shepherd’s Market.
Volunteers at Shepherd’s Market handle everything from signing up clients who receive food to loading food into clients’ vehicles, and even uncrimping and folding donated plastic bags to save on operational costs.
“I don’t know what some of these people would do,” says Theresa. “So as long as I have the donation and grant money, I’ll keep buying stuff, you know? To try to keep us going.”