For 31 years, Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge has made the mission of feeding hungry people a top priority.
Three decades ago, the church started a small food pantry that was located on the church campus to provide meals to church members in need. It soon became clear to church leadership that the demand for food extended well beyond their membership, so in 1996, Broadmoor UMC decided to partner with several neighboring churches that were also operating food pantries. The result of that joint effort was one large food pantry housed on the campus of Broadmoor UMC which provides food to walk-in clients from the surrounding community. That food pantry officially was named Southeast Ministries in 1997.
Southeast Ministries is now supported by 21 area churches representing nine different denominations. Each church supports the ministry by providing two board members, numerous volunteers and continuous financial funding.
The feeding ministry is completely staffed and run by trained volunteers from the partner churches. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank provides thirty percent of the food, but Southeast Ministries still spends more than $80,000 annually on food for clients. Broadmoor UMC continues to be the primary supporter of the ministry, providing one third of the 100 volunteers and just over 30 percent of the program’s annual food budget.
Today the ministry is operated out of a building located next door to Broadmoor UMC. The structure, originally a neighborhood home, was donated and remodeled by a Broadmoor UMC member specifically for Southeast Ministries. The ecumenical program, which is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., provides food assistance to people in 10 and a half zip codes in Southeast Baton Rouge. In addition to food, clients receive Bibles, a list of partner churches and their locations, referrals to other needed services and prayers. Last year, the ministry served 8,328 individuals. A total of 3,420 were children, 592 were elderly, 333 were disabled and 144 were homeless.
Over the past three decades, the location and name of the ministry has changed, but the mission has remained constant and singularly focused—to assist the hungry in Southeast Baton Rouge by providing both physical and spiritual food as an expression of Christ’s love. Through it all, Southeast Ministries continually strives to assist all who are hungry with compassion, respect and love.