Father John E. Jones, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville and founder of the Dare to Care food bank, died June 22 at his home in Simpsonville, Ky. He was 83.
Father Jones started the local food bank in 1969 after learning about the starvation death of a nine-year-old boy. He was pastor of St. John Church at
the time — the closed church is now home to the St. John Center for homeless men. Brian Riendeau, executive director of Dare to Care, told The Courier-Journal that Father Jones “was an example of how one person’s commitment and passion to help others can ignite a movement that impacts a community for many generations.”
In the years since the formation of Dare to Care, the food bank has developed partnerships with more than 300 social service agencies in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. According to the organization’s website, Dare to Care and its affiliates have provided more than 12 million meals to more than 192,000 people in just the past year alone.
Father Jones started the organization by driving throughout the city to pickup donations of food in his pickup truck. Those donations were stored in the St. John Church basement before he delivered the food to other food pantries around the city.
In a 1975 newspaper article, Father Jones said his goal was “to take care of hunger in Louisville on a year-round basis.”
“We wanted to get away from the Christmas basket mentality,” he said.
From its beginnings in the church basement, the organization that Father Jones founded has grown to occupy a 55,000-square-foot warehouse. Dare to Care delivers food using a fleet of a dozen trucks.
Father Jones served at St. Barnabas, Holy Cross, St. Thomas More and St. John parishes in Louisville and at All Saints Church in Taylorsville, Ky., until his retirement in 1986.
In his retirement, Father Jones assisted at the Church of the Annunciation in Shelbyville, Ky., and at several other parishes in the archdiocese.
The Mass of Christian Burial was held Tuesday at Annunciation Church in Shelbyville. Burial was in Grove Hill Cemetery in Shelbyville.