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CEO of Dare to Care aims to feed people 'with excellence and dignity'

Dare to Care CEO Vincent James turned a tragic story into one filled with hope and promise.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One in seven people in Kentuckiana struggles with hunger. 

“We are literally seeing people who are making life choices every day,” Vincent James, CEO of Dare to Care, said. “Am I going to provide food for my family or am I going to go to work?”

According to Dare to Care, there are nearly 90,000 people in Jefferson County who don't have enough food to live a healthy life. 

That number is nearly 9,000 in Bullitt County, 13,000 in Clark County, Indiana, and 9,000 in Floyd county, Indiana. 

The number of people who don't have enough food to live a healthy life are reportedly rising in every county in Kentuckiana.

“People are just trying to get by the best way they can,” James said. “We are talking to those families every single day because they are in pain."

Dare to Care partners with local social service agencies such as, food pantries, shelters and emergency kitchens to distribute food to the Louisville community.

 Vincent James assumed the role of CEO one year ago, at a time of great need. At that time, the need was compounded by the pandemic. Today, the need is further compounded by inflation.  

“Families are making choices between purchasing food, medicine, and gas to get to work, and those are some tough choices to have to make,” James said. “Dare to Care has an opportunity to fill that gap."

James has a history of creating partnerships. He’s a pastor at Elim Baptist Church in West Louisville, which in a very tragic way, led him to eventually lead Dare to Care.

10 years ago, James was inside his church office at 32nd and Greenwood when he heard a barrage of gunshots. “I thought I was in a war zone,” he said.

Three people died in that shooting – two of them had attended James’ church.

“At that point, I said this can’t happen in our city again,” he said.

James dived into to volunteering for every opportunity he thought would be beneficial. One of those opportunities was to serve on a task force created by Mayor Greg Fischer. 

The work of that task force led to the creation of the metro’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, where James ultimately worked as the Chief of Community Building. 

James has translated his experience into his role leading Dare to Care, understanding the relationship between food insecurity and violent crime. An increase in one reportedly often equals an increase in the other.

James said his position at Dare to Care has given him the opportunity to focus on feeding the citizens of Louisville.

“I’m using my energy, resources, and passion that I have for people, and applying it to providing food," he said. "I wake up every morning knowing I’m going to make a difference in someone else’s life, and I feel like I have the best job in the world."

The increased need means James and his dedicated team have more work to do, work he calls a privilege. 

“That’s what we’re attempting to do here," James said. "Feed people with excellence and dignity, but also, figuring out how to prevent people from being in line to begin with.”

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