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Cooking lesson honors Louisville boy who died of hunger

Just before Thanksgiving 1969, 9-year-old Bobby Ellis died of malnutrition. His death sparked the start of Dare to Care, which helps feed the community.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dare to Care Food Bank is honoring the life of a young boy by educating students about cooking and nutrition. 

9-year old Bobby Ellis died of malnutrition in Louisville, just before Thanksgiving in 1969. Dare to Care sprung up in the wake of his death, helping feed the community and fight hunger. 

GE Appliances and Louisville-native chef Damaris Phillips joined Dare to Care on Tuesday to host a cooking lesson for students from Byck Elementary, where Bobby was once a student. 

“We want to get healthy nutritious food to families, but also help families understand how to utilize that food," Dare to Care President and CEO Vincent James said. 

Students learned how to cook a Thanksgiving meal from Phillips, who grew up a few streets away from Dare to Care's kitchen on S. 28th Street. 

“When I was in the fifth grade this would have been a delight to me," she said. “It is so powerful to be able to feed people and for little kids to have that power is dynamic.”

Credit: WHAS
Byck Elementary students learn Thanksgiving recipes from celebrity chef, and Louisville native, Damaris Phillips.

This Thanksgiving, James said the need for Dare to Care's services has increased, with food pantries seeing 30-40% higher demand.

“We’re actually in worse condition than during the pandemic and that’s because a perfect storm has happened," he said, adding that inflation, combined with pandemic-era resources drying up, is driving the increase.

He says Dare to Care typically purchases $2 million worth of fresh produce a year. They expect to double that this year.

“We’re wanting to supply the need, but it’s a greater need than is sustainable for us," James said. 

For the students from Byck, the class was a chance to learn recipes they can make for their families. GE Appliances supplied them with countertop ovens to bring home. 

“Thanksgiving is an important time for Dare to Care, its an important time for our community," GE's Allison Martin said. “There is so much need in this community, but if we all come together we can invest and build a stronger and more equitable Louisville.”

James said the best way to support Dare to Care's mission is financially. He said they can supply six meals with just $1, and its a more reliable resource than canned good donations. 

Earlier this week, Dare to Care hosted a vigil in honor of Bobby Ellis

You can find more about supporting Dare to Care here.

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