Ocean City Today

Shepherd’s Crook close to finding new pantry facility

By Brian Gilliland | May 03, 2018
Photo by: Brian Gilliland Rev. Matthew D'Amario, rector, St. Paul's by-the-Sea church

(May 4, 2018) Though a deal has not yet been finalized, Shepherd’s Crook, a food pantry first offered by St. Paul’s by-the-Sea, will soon be operating out of Ocean City again and offering groceries to those who need them.

“We have a place in mind, but we need two approvals,” the Rev. Matthew D’Amario, rector, said. “We have the board of directors’ approval; we just need the landlord.”

Two other options are available if Plan A falls through, he said.

D’Amario said he received word from the landlord of the food pantry’s now-former home at 205 South Baltimore Ave. that he would not be renewing the lease. The pantry vacated the premises on Monday.

The move was easier than expected, D’Amario said, since the pantry had already given away all of its food, several hundred pounds, beforehand. Thus, only the shelves and equipment need to be stored while the operators consider their options.

This isn’t their first move. The pantry was founded in 1999, D’Amario said, in a very informal way: people would walk up to the rectory, and the clergy in residence would pass out groceries.

As time passed and demand grew, leadership passed from Ken MacMullin to Bruce Young, he said, and the organization began to evolve. The difference between Shepherd’s Crook and services offered by other church organizations is that the food was unprepared, whereas other places offered a hot, precooked meal.

“The homeless want the meal, but we were serving retirees, seasonal workers and the working poor,” D’Amario said.

In 2008, the pantry distributed about 8,000 meals. In 2012, it expanded its operating hours to three times per week.

In 2013, disaster struck, as volunteers prepared to open the food bank for Thanksgiving, John Raymond Sterner doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire before entering the pantry. Sterner, and the pastor David Dingwall were killed, and a volunteer was injured.

The pantry then moved downtown, and other organizations began contributing to the cause.

Eight other local religious organizations began donating to and supplying volunteers for Shepherd’s Crook, which allowed it to expand its hours to five days per week.

Last year, the pantry served 16,000 meals, D’Amario said. Shepherd’s Crook averaged about 1,340 meals per month, or 61 per day, he said.

For more information or to donate food or money, visit the parish office at 302 North Baltimore Ave.

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