Open Hand Kitchen celebrates 40 years of service

by | Oct 16, 2023 | News

Juju may not know where he’s going to sleep at night, but rest assured he knows where his next meal will come from.

He walks to St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s Open Hand Kitchen every day to eat.

“I feel like once I come here I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to get my next meal. I don’t have to worry about feeling unsafe on this campus. It’s sacred ground here,” Juju said.

That “sacred ground” feeling Juju gets may be because the Open Hand Kitchen started serving out of St. Paul Catholic Church. In October 1983, it was gifted to SVDP and the building was converted into a community kitchen.

Fast forward four decades later, on the Open Hand Kitchen’s 40-year anniversary, and it’s still a staple to clients on campus and those in the Shelby Park and Smoketown neighborhoods.

Debbie has walked to the Open Hand Kitchen from her nearby apartment for the last decade. When asked where she would go if SVDP wasn’t around, Debbie said, “I wouldn’t know. This is the only place I know to go. It helps out a lot.”

The Open Hand Kitchen provides two hot meals a day every day of the year to all who come through its doors. If you’re hungry, we’ll feed you, no questions asked.

“It helps me out tremendously, more than you can imagine,” Juju added. “There’s nothing but love here. I feel this is a place I genuinely feel love without any ulterior motives. I feel they’re genuinely helping the community and anyone in need.”

Over the last year, we experienced a 44% increase in those we serve averaging almost 10,000 meals per month.

In comparison to the rest of Jefferson County, Shelby Park households receive four times more SNAP benefits (59%) and three times more are below the federal poverty line (52%).

“This is a different side of Louisville I hadn’t seen before,” said Hymella Ashby, an Open Hand Kitchen cook.

It’s a side of Louisville that not everyone wants to see, whether it’s seniors, teenagers, toddlers, or Veterans in need to eat.

Former Marine James Brown was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a part of our Veterans Transitional Housing Program in the basement of Ozanam Inn Men’s Emergency Shelter.

“St. Vincent de Paul is very generous in feeding people,” Brown said. “I come all the time for lunch and dinner.”

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Source: St. Vincent de Paul Louisville October 2023 Good Samaritan Newsletter