WACO, TX — Each year, Shepherd's Heart Food Pantry serves more than 29,000 local families through both the Food Pantry and provided services.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't changed their needs.
Instead, it has changed the urgency and timing of those needs.
When 25 News spoke to Robert Gager, the Executive Director of Shepherd's Heart, he informed us of three simple requests: "Food, money, volunteers."
Those are the pieces of what helps Shepherd's Heart Food Pantry serve communities throughout Central Texas each week.
"One of these that we've seen (and it's really the significant thing) a lot of families that have never been to a food pantry before because so many people are unemployed right now, they're coming. They're coming in big numbers every week."
As evidenced this past Thursday, a day that Robert says, continues to grow in numbers each week.
"We served 516 cars in our line and then another 314 that we delivered to" he said. "So, this is a very busy place. It takes a lot of work to get things done here."
And a lot of volunteers.
That's an issue Shepherd's Heart never had a problem with, but according to Gager, "With the pandemic, we've lost all of our regular volunteers. We're doing this all with new volunteers and we've got churches that are working together with us to provide volunteers each day, each week. We've got businesses that are providing volunteers. It's just amazing how this just keeps coming together."
But as new volunteers were coming in, the cash flow to Shepherd's Heart took a financial hit.
"One of the things that happened to us is we had a resale store and we had to shut that down in March. That's 36% of our income, so that really hurt our cash flow problem for a while."
For now, there's no logical answer to the question of when things will get back to the way they were before the pandemic.
That's because feeding the need for hundreds of families has no expiration date.
"We're grateful for the ones that have donated to us. They have made it possible for us to feed this community. In the month of April, we served 3,422 families. That's a lot more than normal, and that number is growing."
If you want to volunteer to help with the growing number, Robert ask that you call: 254-722-9517.
They especially need help on Thursdays.
To donate monetarily, you can click here.