Dare to Care marks its 50th anniversary

Dare to Care Food Bank’s annual Bobby Ellis Memorial Vigil Against Hunger drew a crowd Nov. 24 to remember the starvation death of 9-year-old Bobby Ellis on Thanksgiving Eve 1969. The vigil also commemorated the beginning of Dare to Care, born that same year in response to the tragedy. (Record Photo by Paul Hohman)

Fifty years ago, Father  John E. Jones dared Louisville to care for people going hungry. The priest, along with many in Louisville, was horrified to find that on Thanksgiving Eve 1969 a 9-year-old boy, Bobby Ellis, died of malnutrition.

In response, Father Jones, who died in 2012, founded what became the Dare to Care Food Bank in the basement of his parish, the old St. John Church, where St. John Center is located.

Supporters of Dare to Care gathered Nov. 24 to remember the organization’s beginnings and the legacy of young Bobby Ellis at the annual Bobby Ellis Memorial Vigil Against Hunger. The event drew local leaders, including Governor-elect Andy Beshear, who will be inaugurated Dec. 10.

Dare to Care now provides millions  of meals annually to people who are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to enough nutritious food. According to its annual report and website, the organization works with about 270 agencies to distribute food.

Last month Dare to Care announced a $7.1 million fundraising campaign to build a new kitchen at 28th and Virginia streets in West Louisville. The  new Dare to Care Community Kitchen will triple the size of its current capacity.

Catholic Charities plans to partner with Dare to Care in the new space, which is expected to open in April 2020. Catholic Charities’ Common Table Culinary Arts program will be housed in the new community kitchen. And Common Table students will prepare food for Dare to Care’s programs, including its Kids’ Cafe.

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