Rice Bowl collection aids agencies in the archdiocese

Volunteers at Feed My Sheep Food Pantry in Burkesville, Ky., filled a bag with groceries March 9. The pantry serves about 100 families a week. (Photo Special to The Record)

Feed My Sheep Food Pantry in Burkesville, Ky., serves about 400 families from Cumberland County each month. Thanks to a grant from CRS Rice Bowl, the pantry was able to keep serving during the pandemic.

Money from the Holy Thursday Rice Bowl collection primarily funds the work of the U.S. church overseas through Catholic Relief Services. But a quarter of the funds remain in the Archdiocese of Louisville to benefit local charities.

The 2020 collection yielded $49,082, leaving a little over $12,000 in the archdiocese to help Feed My Sheep and four other non-profit groups, said Deacon Lucio Caruso of Catholic Charities, which distributes the grants locally.

Deacon Caruso said the local grants were smaller than usual — the average grant in past years has been between $5,000 and $8,000. The pandemic and subsequent closures of churches and in-person school led to fewer dollars in the Rice Bowl collection last year. But the grant awards were supplemented by assistance from the One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund distributed by Catholic Charities.

Volunteers waited to serve clients outdoors at Feed My Sheep Food Pantry in Burkesville, Ky. The pantry received a grant from the Catholic Relief Service Rice Bowl collection last year. (Photo Special to The Record)

“All these groups — between the COVID relief and local Rice Bowl money — were able to get a little more of a substantial amount for the work they do,” said Deacon Caruso. “This fits the local Rice Bowl effort, which is to address hunger and meet people’s immediate needs.”

The Rice Bowl Collection will be taken up April 1, Holy Thursday, but Deacon Caruso is also encouraging individuals to give beforehand online at https://www.crsricebowl.org/.

The 2020 collection enabled Feed My Sheep to stay open during the lockdown last spring, said Karen Henson, a volunteer who helps to coordinate food distribution for the agency, which is supported by churches in Burkesville, including Holy Cross Church.

“It’s one of the amazing ways this county works together,” said Henson in a recent interview.

Feed My Sheep distributes food to about 100 needy families in Cumberland County every Tuesday. Henson noted that the pantry did not close during the lockdown last spring, instead it moved distribution outdoors to meet social distancing requirements.

A $2,000 Rice Bowl grant helped the agency purchase fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, and generally continue operating during a difficult time, she said.

“It enabled us to keep serving the community and carry out the mission we set out to do for the community. It was an amazing outpouring of love on their part and we’re very thankful,” said Henson.

Four other groups that received grants from the 2020 Rice Bowl collection are:

  • The George K. Bowling Community Park in Edmonton, Ky., serves people in need in Metcalfe County through a food pantry, a homeless shelter and recreational space. The non-profit received a $3,000 grant for its pantry.
  • The St. Vincent de Paul Bread for Life Community Food Pantry at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., serves the needy in Nelson County. It received a $3,000 grant to purchase 31,000 pounds of food.
  • The St. Vincent de Paul Society food pantry at St. Dominic Church in Springfield, Ky., helps feed the needy from the main pantry and a little pantry where individuals can get food items such as peanut butter, soups and canned meat any time of the day or week. The pantry received a $2,000 grant.
  • Helping Hand of Hope in Elizabethtown, Ky., serves the needy in Hardin County through a food pantry and financial assistance for rent and utilities. The non-profit received a $2,000 grant.

For more information on the Rice Bowl program, click here.

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