LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Sister Visitor Center’s Choice Food Pantry is a place for people in need in west Louisville to shop with pride.
“The choice pantry functions like a small supermarket. It really gives people the dignity to come in and choose the items that they’d like to have, so they come in and get a basket and walk around the pantry and select the items that they want to have just like we do when we go into Kroger or any other grocery store,” says center director Sister Paris Slapikas.
Slapikas says the number of people visiting the choice pantry has skyrocketed over the past year and always around holidays.
“We were having about 450 to 500 people who were seeking assistance in our pantry and now we have about 2,300 people a month that are coming,” says Slapikas.
As the number of people in need rises, the number of donations the pantry receives is doing the opposite.
“One of our biggest and most helpful supporters is Dare To Care,” says Slapikas. “A lot of the food that we get comes from Dare to Care, but they’re supporting over 200 pantries around the city and so they are they are also heavily impacted by the donations, which trickles down to all the pages that they’re supporting.”
Dare To Care donations dropped from 20,000 pounds of food each month to about 13,000 pounds starting in May.
“They’re doing everything they can to support us and all the other pantries, but really they’re only able to support us to the level of donations that they have as well,” says Slapikas.
As inflation continues, donations from other organizations and individuals have also slowed down.
“We’ve never limited the hours that we’ve been open or the number of clients that we’ve served, but we have had to limit the amount of food that we can give each person that comes in and we run out of food earlier in the month than we normally have,” says Slapikas.
The center also provides case management and rental and utility assistance.
Recently, the center has been able to serve 15% of the requests that come in.
Staff and volunteers are making the most of the resources they have year-round and especially around the holidays.
“Our clients tell us every single day, how grateful they are for the fact that we’re here, for what we’re able to give to them and so I know that what we’re doing for the community is a service that is absolutely vital to those who live in this area,” says Slapikas.
The choice food pantry is located at 2235 West Market Street and is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 2:30 pm
It serves families in the Russell, Portland, and Shawnee neighborhoods.