By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
The Franciscan Kitchen on Preston Street, near downtown Louisville, spends about $6,300 on green beans each year, serving 18-20 industrial-sized cans of the side dish at one meal.
About 500 homeless and hungry people dine at the soup kitchen daily Monday through Friday, plus some Saturdays each month. It’s supported solely by donations, receiving no funding from government-sponsored programs.
Its green bean budget received a boost last fall from the 2016 Catholic Relief Services Collection, which is scheduled again for this weekend.
The Catholic Relief Services Collection provides funding for the overseas work of the U.S. church. It helps families who have fled Syria, drought-stricken Ethiopia and people in more than 100 other countries around the world.
But a quarter of the collection stays right here in Kentucky. Last year’s collection of $117,950 is providing green beans to Franciscan Kitchen and support to four other charities in Kentucky.
“A lot of people don’t realize there’s a local part of that (collection) which stays here and there are local ministries that can benefit,” said Deacon Lucio Caruso of Catholic Charities, which distributes the grants locally.
The grants, he said, “are very related to the corporal works of mercy — the tangible ones helping to feed and house.”
Franciscan Kitchen’s director, Chuck Mattingly, said the grant fills an unmet need.
“Our single biggest expense each year is canned vegetables,” he said during an interview March 20. “We get a lot of donated ham, so we use that to flavor the green beans. It’s a go-to for us.”
The CRS collection is also providing funding to four other groups this year.
- The Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Ozanam Inn received $7,000 from last year’s collection. So far, $5,000 of that money has been used to repair the roof of the men’s homeless shelter. The shelter houses about 58 men each night. A quarter of them are veterans and nearly half are physically disabled, according to an announcement from Catholic Charities.
- Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland received $7,900 from the collection. The money was split evenly between 15 counties, providing weekend food for four children in each county through the BackPack program, the announcement said.
- St. John Center for Homeless Men received $7,000 to help its clients with a variety of expenses. Funds were used for TARC passes, co-pays for health care, life-skill classes, case management and other costs.
- The Cathedral ID program received $724 to help people at the Cathedral of the Assumption’s daily lunch program obtain a Kentucky State Identification Card. A description of the program on the Cathedral’s website says, “This I.D. is necessary for those on the streets to be admitted to a shelter, to apply for a job and to be eligible for other needed social services. It is often the first step on the road to becoming self-sufficient.”
The funding helped about 75 people obtain identification, the announcement from Catholic Charities said.