As the Associate Director of Food Services, Wendy Daniels coordinates the Fresh Market food pantry and the meals provided in the Men’s and Women’s Centers to guests who are experiencing homelessness. She hopes to serve the community well through Breakthrough’s food services, and, for her, it’s an attention to detail that creates thoughtful, dignifying experiences for all.

Creating a Dignifying Experience for Families

The Fresh Market is a client-choice food pantry that offers high-quality food and supplies to families in East Garfield Park. With nearly 20,000 visitors accessing groceries last year, Wendy wants the market to feel shopper-honoring.

“We want the Fresh Market to feel like a small neighborhood market that just happens to be free to those who are in need,” she says. 

Beyond the client-choice model, which allows shoppers to select the items they want for their families rather than be given a bag of pre-selected groceries, Wendy said, in order “to present very well and let our families know we care about them,” the details are important.

“That could mean reworking the structure of the market to make it flow like a grocery store,” she says. “It could mean that we are unified in what we wear so that you feel like you’re coming to a place that has really put thought into how they serve others.”

The Legacy of the Fresh Market

Wendy hopes the Fresh Market is remembered as a space of joy, a space of hope, and a space of kindness, not only in the demeanor of the staff of volunteers, but also in the details – the uniforms, the shopping carts, the layout, and the shelves stocked with fresh food.

“I would hope that those families would feel very loved on and cared for, and that the aesthetics of this place would also bring them joy as well,” she says.

When she considers the legacy of the Fresh Market, Wendy looks back at what it was like to visit a food pantry 20 years ago and to the dignifying experiences the Fresh Market provides to today. 

“I hope they say this was a place that just did not feel like a hand out,” Wendy says. “It felt like a hand up and a hand held.”