Commentary by Brad Thompson
Saturday mornings, a Bible study group begun by several Zionsville residents, including members of Zionsville Fellowship Church, helps manage the Shepherd Community Center food pantry on the near eastside in Indianapolis.
The idea for taking on the project grew out of the group’s study of the book “Generous Justice” by Timothy Keller. The book argues for social justice and calls people to act in their everyday lives to show love to their neighbors, especially the poor. The study group felt convicted to act.
Saturday mornings begin with people gathering from the neighborhood who need food. After volunteers interview them to assess their needs, Shepherd conducts a church service where the volunteers and the neighborhood residents worship together. At the conclusion of the church service, volunteers pray with individual residents.
Then volunteers take the neighborhood residents, one by one, and go shopping through the food pantry. The volunteers provide words of encouragement and look for opportunities to make suggestions for healthy meals that would also be filling. Many of the volunteers and residents know each other by name. The Saturday mornings are all about building relationships.
Elsewhere at the center on Saturday mornings they offer free breakfast as well as medical and legal aid.
The pantry was recently enlarged because of the tremendous need, but Shepherd is having difficulty stocking the shelves. They now accept fresh fruits and vegetables as well as food that requires refrigeration. One particular church conducts a cereal drive every year, so the pantry is well-stocked with that staple. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to protein, peanut butter is about all they have.
The pantry accepts donations of money as well as perishable and nonperishable foods. For additional information, visit shepherdcommunity.org/give/things-we-need/.