Shepherd’s Table executive director Manny Hidalgo was recently interviewed by the local newspaper Street Sense Media about the nonprofit’s work supporting socially and economically disadvantaged communities.
A 20-plus year resident of Silver Spring, Hidalgo took over for Jacki Coyle, who retired in 2019 after 15 years as executive director.
Shepherd’s Table started out as a soup kitchen in a bungalow behind the First Baptist Church in Silver Spring, a project born from collaboration among 15 local congregations.
The organization is now serving three meals a day, about 500 a day, at its Progress Place facility at 8106 Georgia Ave. In addition, a program called Beyond the Table delivers another 250 dinners a day to residents in need. The nonprofit marked its 2 millionth meal served last December.
In addition to meal service, Shepherd’s Table has a resource center providing referrals and other help, an eye clinic, and a clothes closet offering gently used adult clothing to its clients.
In the Street Sense Media interview, Hidalgo discussed how the nonprofit determines the types of social services it offers, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations, and the difference of having a good meal for someone who is homeless or food insecure:
It’s necessary before you can do anything. It’s hard to make any good decision on an empty stomach. A decision to take your medication, a decision to sign up for that GED class, a decision to get out of a bad relationship, to sign up to get an apartment, to go look for a job. Having a healthy, nutritious meal is a building block for all other important decisions one makes in a day. If there’s anything you get right today, let it be what you put in your body. Hopefully, every other decision will be a good one emanating from that first, most central, important decision one makes.
Source file photo courtesy of Shepherd’s Table