Welcome to our first Agency Spotlight interview, a feature we hope will foster connection, dialogue, and support amongst you all: our agency partners. This week we had the pleasure of connecting with Desiree’ La-Marr Murphy of Murphy’s Giving Market. Thank you for your insights and advice, Desiree’!
What inspires you?
“The people that come to the market every day with the lived experiences. They are so humble, so thankful, and they have a sweet spirit about them. Also the thought that my ancestors would be pleased with the work we do, their encouragement keeps me going.”
Is there a change you’d like to see in the charitable food network? In our food systems at large?
“Making food more culturally relevant. Making food available to everyone so we are not turning people away or that they are not coming to pantries, schools, anyplace in the charitable organization, and not being able to get what they need. So many pantries do not have produce or halal options. We give people what we think they need, not what they [actually] need to give to their family. We are seeing this trend, but I would like to see it more, for there to become more choice.”
What do you see as the #1 need in the area you serve? What would you like to see happen within that area?
“Wrap-around coordination of care. Find ways to give [people] other resources, even if it’s one at a time to help them and support them make way out of poverty. Show you care. Engage them. Take informal surveys: how are you doing? anything you need? are you housed? are your kids registered in school? are you registered to vote? Assess the social determinants of health to see how you can offer help.”
Any advice to pantries who do not currently offer full choice but would like to make the switch, or make changes to provide folks with more agency?
“Start off slow. Don’t think you need to offer total full choice; pack what you can and offer a meat choice or offer a meat and a bread. Offer choices slowly. Pack what you can, offer some sort of choice option, and from there work your way gradually up.”
Any advice in general you have to offer to our partner agency network?
“Engage the community. Engage the folks that come to the pantry for support. A lot of people want to give back. A strong part of our work force used to come to the pantry. They are full time staff, working 3-4 days a week. They come to volunteer, to pack and unload, they are a part of us, and it gives them pride, dignity, and ownership of the pantry. Working with the community is great.”