Food pantry expands to meet rising needs

Ursuline Sisters of Louisville Martha Buser, left, and Jean Anne Zappa, right, attended a celebration to open the newly expanded food pantry at Shively Area Ministries last week. Sister Zappa serves as the ministry's development coordinator.(Photo by Marnie McAllister)

Record Assistant Editor

In an area of Louisville where the poverty rate reached 18 percent in 2010, Shively Area Ministries has expanded its food pantry to serve a growing number of people in need.

“We are seeing more people who are unemployed and looking for work, people returning from war looking for work and trying to get their lives back together,” said Roxanna Trivitt, the ministries’ executive director. “Luther Luckett (Correctional Complex) just released 900 prisoners, and we’ve seen some of them. And we’re continuing to see those single parents who are young.”

The community ministry, which serves people in the 40216 zip code, dedicated a 1,500-square-foot addition to its food pantry last Thursday. The ceremony was attended by volunteers from area churches that sponsor the ministry, including the Catholic churches of St. Lawrence, Mary Queen of Peace and Incarnation.

Roxanna Trivitt, the executive director of Shively Area Ministries, thanked donors for their contributions. Thursday. The ceremony was attended by volunteers from area churches that sponsor the ministry, including the Catholic churches of St. Lawrence, Mary Queen of Peace and Incarnation.

During the event, Trivitt thanked donors for the sacrifices they made to provide a “safety net for families” and others who are struggling.
The top two donations for the $214,000 expansion came from Kosair Charities and the Byerly Ford-Nissan’s Daunhauer family, she said. The food pantry was named Honey and Pop’s Food Pantry in honor of the late John Daunhauer and his wife Joan Byerly Daunhauer, who attended the dedication.

Their son, Greg Daunhauer, a member of the ministries’ board and of Holy Trinity Church, explained the pantry’s name after the ceremony.

“The children call my mom ‘Honey’ and my dad ‘Pop.’ We didn’t want to put their names on it, but we thought that Honey and Pop would still honor them,” he said. “Our dealership is a mile down the road. We feel like we’ve been blessed by the community, and we wanted to give back to the Shively community.”

Dawne Gee, an anchor for WAVE 3, said during the ceremony that she lives in the Shively area and wanted to urge people to help stock the food pantry. She spoke passionately  about the plight of struggling families and related an encounter she had with a mother in need. During a work assignment, she said, a 20-year-old mother told her, “ ‘I shouldn’t have given birth to my child. I can’t feed him.’ ”

Gee said at that moment, she was no longer working, but let her instinct to help take over. She called her family, and together they provided food, including formula, for the baby.

“People eat 365 days a year, not just at Christmas and Thanksgiving” when food drives are typically conducted, she said. “It’s not getting better. One out of five babies don’t eat. I had a little boy say to me, ‘When I’m home and I’m hungry, I eat paper.’ ”

Trivitt said during an interview after the dedication that the need for food among people in Shively has both grown and changed in the last couple of years.

“We used to provide emergency food, and now we are providing supplemental food,” she said. “People aren’t getting relief. Their needs continue every month.”

Shively Area Ministries provides food in two ways. The food pantry can provide emergency assistance to a family or an individual in need four times a year. Those who qualifymay also receive a food donation once a month.

It’s those numbers — the numbers of those who qualify for monthy assistance — that have climbed, she said.

The ministry is on track to serve 10 percent more families this year than last, with 650 families receiving assistance each month, Trivitt said. About 550 of those families receive food assistance.

In addition to food, the ministries also provides counseling; emergency financial assistance with rent, utilities and medication; a clothes closet; and Meals on Wheels and homebound commodities deliveries.

Faced with a larger food pantry, Trivitt said the new challenge is to keep it filled. Its contents come from two sources:contributions from donors, including churches, schools and families, and a distribution from Dare to Care.

“Dare to Care told us last week that we are their second-largest distribution site,” Trivitt said. “It’s going to take everyone giving up something to really help those who need help.”

She noted that representatives of one local high school told her their food drive wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped because parents didn’t have enough to give away. “That was very sad.”

One thing Shively Area Ministries does seem to have is dedicated volunteers. The charity has a base of about 120 people.

Nancy and Joseph Shoemaker, members of St. Lawrence Church, volunteer regulary. She volunteers once a week and serves at the front desk, greeting people as they enter. Her husband, who goes by “Butch,” delivers commodities once a month to people who are homebound.

Nancy Shoemaker said she started volunteering about a year after her husband. She saw an appeal for volunteers and decided the Holy Spirit was leading her there.

“It is a wonderful place to volunteer,” she said. “It is full of the Holy Spirit. It is full of love for each other.”

Also, “It’s a very humbling experience with the clients when they come in. You think, ‘That could be me, just like that,’ ” she said snapping her fingers.

Butch Shoemaker sees his work as a way to return his good fortune.

“I feel like in my life, I’ve been very blessed,” he said. “I find it so rewarding. These people are so nice and appreciative of what they get. They’re people who are down on their luck.”

The food pantry is managed by Joe Nevitt, a retired grocery store manager and member of Mary Queen of Peace Church.

He sees the expansion as a blessing to the volunteers and their clients alike.

“This pantry makes it safer and easier for everybody,” he said, noting that before the expansion, the food pantry was crammed with cans and boxes that had to be moved around constantly to make way for something else.

The expansion helps the volunteers to help those who really need it, he added.

“I see a great need in the single woman who’s lost her husband. This is a lifeline for them,” he said. “You’d be amazed at the ladies who are 70 or 75.”

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