Ocean City Today

Shepherd’s Crook pantry finds new downtown home

By Brian Gilliland | May 17, 2018
Photo by: Brian Gilliland 102 Worcester Street, new home of the Shepherd's Crook food pantry.

(May 18, 2018) Making ends meet in Ocean City can be a daunting task, and there are relatively few services out there to help people who are homeless, between homes or don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

While there are other places with more and better care for these populations, Ocean City has its own issues, and the people involved appear to be here to stay.

Finding a way to a meal can be a lifesaving enterprise, particularly in the case of seasonal employees, who originate from outside of the United States, or may have loose connections to others in the area, and could be without a job at a moment’s notice.

Shepherd’s Crook, a food pantry originating at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea church but now existing as a partnership between at least seven faith organizations in the area, was one of those places, but was forced to relocate again after learning the landlord had other plans for its former home at 205 South Baltimore Ave.

“We’ve run it out of the church, out of the Health Department, out of a van after the fire, in a condominium and now we’re here,” Jane Ellis, director of the pantry, said. “The goal isn’t to be in a particular place. We’re put on Earth to raise others up and help them.”

Shepherd’s Crook does not provide hot meals for those who come through. Instead they provide a supply of raw ingredients or easy-to-prepare foods to warm the bellies of some of the more vulnerable people in the area.

“We love what we’re doing and are exceedingly happy,” Ellis said. “The community we serve is very important to us.”

The new location, at 102 Worcester St., is still downtown, but available for fewer hours.

Instead of being open five days per week, the agreement with the building’s current resident, Lands End Fellowship, only allows three — like when the pantry first opened.

“The five days per week schedule is only two or three years old, so we’ll have to see what the future holds,” Ellis said.

Open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon, the pantry provides a selection of foods to anyone who walks through the door, depending on how much they have to give.

Because the group is donation-based and doesn’t pursue or accept government funding, Ellis said it has more freedom to run its operations.

“We don’t have to collect names or addresses,” of people who come to the pantry seeking help, she said.

Diakonia, a food pantry and temporary or emergency shelter in West Ocean City, by way of contrast, focuses on “more permanent solutions” to the hunger problem, Ellis said.

“Diakonia is a great organization, but it has different goals and there are cracks, and we fill them in,” she explained. “We do grab-and-go food — there’s no eating here. Our mission is that no one is OC goes hungry.”

But first, the people must find the new place.

“People are finding us, I haven’t seen everyone I’m used to seeing, but I’ve also seen some new faces,” Ellis said. “It’s like when I go walking on the Boardwalk. I have my route and I stick to it. If I go off my route, I miss things.”

Eventually, she said, she returns to her normal route and sees all the same places and people she expects, which is no different than her expectation for the food pantry.

“The goal isn’t to be in a particular place,” she said. “We want to help people exercise their right to not be hungry.”

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