By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
As requests for supplemental food aid hits an all-time high in the Louisville metro region, the Dare to Care Food Bank will now have to do more with less.
The Yum! Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Yum! Brands corporation, has announced plans to cut its annual contribution to Dare to Care by half — from $1 million to $500,000. Past Yum! contributions have made up about seven percent of Dare to Care’s $7.2 million annual budget.
Brian Riendeau, executive director of Dare to Care, noted that at $500,000, Yum! remains Dare to Care’s largest single supporter. Despite the substantial budgetary setback, the food bank will continue to provide the same level of support it currently provides to the community, he said.
“We are confident we can do this without reducing services
but it will clearly take the support of the faith community, the business community and the government to help us do that,” he said in an interview last week.
Riendeau said the food bank has reached out to existing donors to ask them to consider increasing their level of support. More than 20,000 individuals make personal contributions annually to Dare to Care.
“We’re also reaching out to individuals and organizations that have not supported us in the past and see if they would reconsider, in light of this news,” he said.
Riendeau said the faith community has historically been a tremendous support to the mission of Dare to Care.
“Over the past 40 years, the faith community has nurtured and sustained us,” he said.
Dare to Care was founded in 1969 by Father John E. Jones after learning about the starvation death of a nine-year-old boy. Father Jones, who died in 2012, was pastor of St. John Church at the time — the closed church is now home to the St. John Center for homeless men.
Riendeau said the need for food assistance has never been higher. About 192,000 people in the Kentucky and Indiana area suffer from “food insecurity,” a number, he said, that has grown exponentially since 2008.
“Right now we are not seeing any improvement in that number. We are operating under the assumption that the level of need will only continue to increase for some time,” he said.
Dare to Care provides food to 270 partner agencies: including Shively Area Ministries (SAM) and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP).
SAM serves between 650 and 700 families per month, providing about 13,000 pounds of food, said Ursuline Sister of Louisville Jean Anne Zappa, SAM’s mission advancement coordinator.
Sister Zappa said SAM is “grateful for the partnership with Dare to Care” and noted they could not provide the requested levels of supplemental food without the help of Dare to Care, which, along with the USDA food distribution program, gives 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of food per month to SAM.
Sister Zappa said if Dare to Care reduced the amount of food it provided to Shively Area Ministries, she and the other staff “will have to find more ways to supplement” including turning to churches, schools and Scout groups.
“We can’t turn people away. We don’t do that,” she said.
At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Dare to Care provides food for three critical programs, said Angela Champion Sprowl, SVDP’s director of development.
The society’s Open Hand Kitchen serves 15,000 hot meals a month. Its food pantry assists 400 families each month. And the Family Success Center’s Kids Cafe serves at-risk youth in an after-school setting.
“Hunger and food security are a cornerstone of the SVDP mission,” Sprowl said. “Having a strong food bank in Dare to Care ensures healthy food for our community and Dare to Care’s support and network of partnerships has been a strength in Louisville.”
Ed Wnorowski, the executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, said there will be concern if the decrease in charitable giving by Yum! limits Dare to Care’s ability to provide enough food to help fund the society’s three major programs. But, he noted “we exist in an extremely caring community, where the shortfalls are frequently made up.”
“And we’re hopeful that somebody will step up and fill the void.”
Riendeau of Dare to Care added, “No gift is too small. Don’t forget $1 can help us provide four meals.”
BOBBY ELLIS MEMORIAL VIGIL
The annual Vigil and walk will be held Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. Ellis, a nine-year-old boy, died from hunger on Thanksgiving Eve in 1969. His death prompted Father John E. Jones to start Dare to Care.
The half-mile loop will depart from Catholic Charities, 2234 W. Market Street, and pass the spot near the corner of 21st Street and Muhammad Ali Blvd., where Ellis died.
For more information, call 966-3821.