Shepherds Heart Pantry

Pantry location: 1401 North 34th St, Waco 76710
Mail to: P.O. Box 23175 Waco, 76702

If you’re reading this article, you live in an area where the poverty rate is almost twice the national average. The next statistic may surprise you even more. One in four children in Texas (23.3%) under the age of 5 is “food insecure”—which is defined as not knowing where his or her next meal will come from. Texas has the second-highest food insecurity rate in the U.S. for all age groups…both statistics that The Shepherds Heart Food Pantry of Waco is working to change on a daily basis—one nutritious meal at a time. According to founder and director Robert Gager, “We are commanded by God to take care of the needy in our community and we can’t wait for someone else to deal with the issue, so we’re finding creative ways to help those that are food insecure. We’re helping about 3,000 families per month now, but our goal is to develop a network of Shepherd’s Heart pantries throughout Central Texas to provide services to many more communities and families in the near future. We currently have four network pantries and will continue adding to that number. Hunger won’t wait.”

The Shepherds Heart is quickly becoming the largest food pantry in the Central Texas area, and is actively seeking participation from area churches to widen its distribution area even more. Currently, more than 3,000 families per month receive nutritious food free-of-charge through organized distribution of canned goods, boxed and dry staple items, meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables- - distributed every Thursday at The Shepherd’s Heart location at 1401 North 34th Street in Waco. For added convenience, a drive-through is available for the handicapped so they won’t have to stand in line. Currently, we deliver to 295 housebound senior citizens, or for those who are disabled and unable to get to The Shepherd’s Heart location.

The pantry has been in operation for two years and in that time has served 43,588 families, including dependents 119,335 people have been served a total of 1,637,768 lbs. of food distributed. Presently, we serve over 700 families each week on Thursday. The drive through service operates from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. The walk-in clients are served from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. The pantry is also open the third Saturday of each month from 10:00am to noon.

In addition, more than 250 families are served each month from The Shepherds Heart “mobile pantry” (a collaborative effort between The Shepherd’s Heart and

Austin’s Capital Area Food Bank) on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Industrial Technology Center at TSTC.

The Shepherds Heart is staffed entirely of volunteers who wish to make a difference in the lives of others. To support their much-needed work, donations from the Central Texas community are vital to continue the mission of feeding the hungry. Gager said, “We really appreciate those who have partnered with us so far, because we believe God is blessing us all with everything that we do. We want to continue to bless others as much as we can. It is what God is doing through those that donate to our efforts that make it all possible.” We consider our donors the life blood of what we are able to do and our volunteers as the arteries that carry the blood to those who need it. We continually we need new donors and volunteers.

In addition to donations, The Shepherds Heart has developed a creative way to fund daily operating expenses through the establishment of “Things from the Heart”— a re-sale store for gently used clothes and household items at very discounted prices. It sits across the street from the nonprofit food pantry, at the corner of 34th Street and Bosque Boulevard. The store is open on Fridays and Saturdays, while volunteers accept and sort donations weekly Tuesday through Friday. Like the Shepherds Heart pantry Things from the Heart is also staffed entirely by volunteers. If you would like to volunteer an hour or more we can certainly use your help.

For anyone wishing to donate to Things from the Heart, The Shepherds Heart willingly accepts items, and all donations are tax-deductible. The Shepherds Heart is a 501(c)3 organization, and 100% of proceeds from sales at Things from the Heart will go directly toward purchasing food and daily operating expenses.

In today’s economic times, the need for feeding the hungry is greater than ever. To help The Shepherds Pantry continue its much-needed mission through donations, volunteerism, or by becoming a member of its network to increase food distribution locations, call (254) 722-9517. Our greatest need is for more drivers to deliver to the elderly. If you have an hour to volunteer; you can make a difference in the lives of those who need our help. Donations may be sent to The Shepherds Heart, P.O. Box 23175, Waco, TX 76702.