Schools donate milk, fruit to Franciscan Kitchen

Mary K. Korfhage loads milk, juice boxes, snacks and other items onto a cart at the Franciscan Kitchen March 18. The items were donated by St. Bernard, St. Agnes and St. Stephen Martyr schools from supplies in their closed cafeterias.

In the midst of the chaos of moving her college-aged child home from school earlier this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Mary K. Korfhage had an idea.

She thought of the unused food sitting in cafeterias of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville and knew the perfect place to donate it — the Franciscan Kitchen.

She used contacts she had at a few schools — St. Bernard, St. Agnes and St. Stephen Martyr — and began to gather unexpired food items. She loaded up her SUV and dropped off about 500 milk cartons, some juice boxes, chip bags and fruit at the soup kitchen on South Preston Street March 18. St. Bernard also donated 25 pizzas to the kitchen March 19.

Chuck Mattingly, executive director of the Franciscan Kitchen, said the donation was timed perfectly for those who rely on the kitchen for a hot meal each day. The kitchen serves about 600 lunches every day, a number Mattingly expects to rise given the impending economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus. 

Earlier this week, the kitchen discontinued its dine-in option and is now offering a “to-go” meal, consisting of a hot plate of food or hot sandwich, as well as a brown bag of snacks, vegetables, fruit and a drink.

“We are so grateful to receive donations from the parishes and schools. It’s very difficult, almost impossible to serve an open container of lemonade or water under our current plan of serving a to-go plate and bag lunch,” Mattingly said. “Our guests simply cannot carry anything else, so a pint of milk is just perfect.”

Korfhage has a long history with the Franciscan Kitchen. Her uncle, Franciscan Brother Jim Fields, opened the charity to feed the hungry 40 years ago.

Last month, the kitchen formally recognized its founder by naming the dining area the Brother Jim Fields Dining Hall.

“A lot has changed in 40 years but the one constant thread is the dedication of so many people to help their fellow brothers and sisters who are hungry,” Mattingly said.

Korfhage said she likes to think creatively and reach out to those in need.

“I wanted to support their effort all the time, especially in times of need like this,” she said.

A note was also sent to parishes and schools yesterday from the archdiocese asking for any food, milk, vegetables or other items to “serve our brothers and sisters in this time of need.” Franciscan Kitchen also welcomes fish fry items are left from the cancellation of parish events. 

Items can be dropped off at 748 South Preston St. from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. For pick-up of larger loads, call the kitchen office at 589-0140 to arrange a pickup Monday through Friday.

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