Sister Visitor Center’s pantry
in need of food donations

A family shopped for food in Sister Visitor Center’s choice pantry with the help of a volunteer June 19. The pantry is seeing a steady increase in individuals needing food. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

As inflation drives up the cost of food, Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Sister Visitor Center is struggling to feed the needy in the city’s West End.

The center, located at 2235 W. Market St., serves the Portland, Shawnee and Russell neighborhoods.

Sister of Charity of Nazareth Paris Slapikas said donations to the center are down while the number of clients has increased every month since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve never seen what we’re seeing right now,” said Sister Slapikas, who serves as the center’s director, noting the center was having a difficult time keeping meat in stock.

Sister Slapikas said the center went from feeding 1,450 individuals in February to 1,926 individuals in May and the numbers are not slowing down. “We’re not seeing just the same people. New people are coming. That’s related to inflation,” she said. “We’re hearing the economic strain is impacting every aspect of their lives. … They are relying on us.” The center, she added, serves some of the most “economically disadvantaged” individuals in the city.

The center was getting more than 20,000 pounds of food per month from Dare to Care Food Bank. A change in Dare to Care’s supply chain has caused that to be cut almost in half, said Sister Slapikas. “Dare to Care is a wonderful partner and they’re committed to doing everything they can to help people, but they are limited in what they can do,” she said.

She is now calling on the members of the faithful and individuals in the wider community for assistance.

There are many ways people can donate, she said. She suggested individuals can hold food drives and collect needed items or gift cards. “This just doesn’t have to happen through an individual church. How do we call individual parishioners to think about ways they can engage their own groups, peer clubs or sports clubs?” she asked. There are people “who I know have a hunger to give back and I believe are looking for ways to give back but aren’t sure how to. This would be an opportunity to do that.”

The shortage in food and increase in clients came at a time when the center is trying not only to feed people but to provide them with healthy foods.

The center recently rolled out a new initiative called Supporting Wellness At Pantries (SWAP) aimed at helping clients choose nutritious foods according to their dietary and health needs, said Sister Slapikas. Caseworkers have been talking to clients about specific dietary needs, she said. Sections of shelves are color-coded to indicate the nutrition content of the products. The idea is to help guide clients to foods that are right for them based on medical conditions they may have, she said.

“You have to have healthy foods. … We don’t just want to feed people. We want to feed them good, healthy food,” said Sister Slapikas. Individuals the center serves already have “greater health issues and shorter life span because of the challenges they’ve been faced with their whole life.”

To make a donation, contact the center at 776-0155 or pslapikas@archlou.org.

For a list of the items the pantry most needs, visit https://cclou.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Food-Pantry-Needs-Revised.pdf.

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