As a volunteer, Lester Cypher started Shepherd’s Cupboard in 1992 and only one person came for food, within six months Shepherd’s Cupboard was feeding over 200 hot meals and giving out 5,000 pounds of food to the nutritionally challenged of Pasco County.
As Shepherd’s Cupboard started to reach out to more of Pasco County’s most needy, Shepherd’s Cupboard needed more food. Lester started Reaping the Harvest, a recycling program that recycles food from supermarkets and other food handling businesses. This helped with meeting the need for food for about one year then Shepherd’s Cupboard found themselves with more requests for food than they had.
In 1997, Lester started The Volunteer Way, Inc. Food Bank and started to receive U.S.D.A. Commodities and found Shepherd’s Cupboard had too much foods he shared the food with other food pantries and soup kitchens. Lester resigned from leading Shepherd’s Cupboard in 1999 because The Volunteer Way was growing rapidly.
In 1999, Lester rented a store to house The Volunteer Way Food Bank and started to share the food with 60 food pantries throughout central Florida. In 2002, The Volunteer Way Food Bank distributed 3,000,000 pounds of food to their partnering non-profit agencies. They were cramped for space, so Lester wrote a successful grant for $150,000 to purchase a 5,000 square foot warehouse located on Congress Street in New Port Richey, Florida.
In 1999, Lester started a program to assist low-income homebound elderly to assure the elderly they did not need to go without food in order to purchase medication and that there were people in Pasco County that cared what happened to them. The Brown Bag Program started to partner with government agencies that could not handle the number of elderly in need, such as Cares of Pasco County. The Brown Bag Program brings 40 to 60 pounds of food to the low-income homebound elderly each month. To those elderly that cannot clean their homes. Another very important part of what we do is to visit with the homebound elderly because this may be the first live people they see all month.
In 2002, Lester started a new program called the Little Angel Program. This program helps the mentally challenged to be the most they can be. We have their providers bring them to our Little Angel program while we help them learn life skills such as counting money, computer skills, cleaning our offices and much more.
The positive effect that Lester Cypher has had on the communities is that there are thousands of low income and hurting that people that are no longer food insecure, lonely and have a better outlook on life. People’s self-esteem has changed from low to promising. Lester has been an advocate for volunteerism throughout Florida. In 2005, people volunteer over 195,000 hours and distributed 5,000,000 pounds of food.