Creating sustainable change in Dent County

Creating sustainable change in Dent County

March 17, 2021 in Agency Spotlight

Shepherd’s Nook Food Pantry has served families facing hunger in Dent County for 20 years. The community-based project is supported by multiple churches and businesses in the area, and everyone involved is passionate about creating sustainable change.

The food pantry is part of Lifeway Center, a nonprofit located in Salem. Bill Stack, the executive director, helped found the organization in 2001.

“We had been involved primarily with foreign missions, and we began to recognize there were unreached areas and needs of our own community that seemed to need some attention,” he shared. “We continued to help overseas, but we believed the Lord wanted us to sharpen our focus locally.”

When the pandemic started, the pantry quickly adapted to a drive-through system to limit personal contact. They served an average of 1,300 individuals each month in 2019, and during the height of the pandemic, they served about 2,600. Shepherd’s Nook also began providing more meals to children as COVID-19 affected the area.

“We saw far more working-age families with children during the pandemic shutdowns,” Bill shared.

Along with distributing food throughout the month, Lifeway Center provides financial aid for cancer patients and PTSD therapy and community projects for veterans in the area. During the summertime, the center participates in community garden efforts with a state prison nearby.

Bill and his team of volunteers are passionate about meeting the needs of their community members.

“We have had senior citizens tell us that visiting our pantry is the only way they can afford medicine or utilities. Some have also requested prayer from a staff member when experiencing great difficulty and have come back to share how they were helped by more than just the food received,” he shared. “Another touching moment was when a child at Christmastime turned down a toy so they could get toilet paper, thinking they could only get one or the other (we gave both). We had no idea simple items like that were needed to that degree.”

Bill believes that the pantry and Lifeway Center will continue to grow and evolve. He’s looking forward to allowing patrons inside the building again in the future.

We’re so thankful for Bill and his team of volunteers that help provide thousands of meals to families facing hunger in Dent County! Learn more about Shephard’s Nook and LifeWay Center here.