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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cold Spring Welcomes New St. Vincent De Paul Pantry and Store

The new St. Vincent de Paul store and pantry are located at 3970 Alexandria Pike in Cold Spring.

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by Robin Gee

After leaving their location in Newport three years ago, the people at St. Vincent de Paul began their search for a new location, one they hoped would allow them to be able to continue to serve those in need in Campbell County.

Want a Clean House?

They found the perfect place for their store, a spot in a small shopping center in Cold Spring. Located at 3970 Alexandria Pike, the space offered 10,000 square feet for their store, access to the bus line and was very close to the Campbell County Public Library and to St. Joseph Church, one of their community partners.

This was great news for the staff and volunteers, but there was even better news. Another spot was open right next door. After speaking with the property owner, they were able to secure that location as well. This means they could move forward with a major goal — to add a pantry space.

Executive Director Karen Zengel said the extra space was a welcome surprise. They had hoped to open a pantry somewhere in the county but to have it right next door to their store meant they could move ahead on both their goals to open a new store and to start a pantry for the community.

The pantry actually opened up in March 2021, about a month before the store. Since opening the pantry, they have served 375 people from throughout the community. Some people might find that surprising, said Zengel.

"We had heard from Freestore Food Bank, because they helped us with refrigerators, freezers and shelving for that pantry, that Cold Spring is actually an underserved area when it comes to food. People have the perception there’s not a lot of hardship here. It’s your typical suburban area."

The hardships are there, she said, but not always as visible in smaller communities as it sometimes is larger, urban areas.

A choice pantry

The well-stocked St. Vincent de Paul food pantry offers fresh as well as packaged foods, thanks to a local food rescue program.

The St. Vincent de Paul pantry is a "choice pantry," said Zengel. Many pantries in Northern Kentucky are operated out of local churches and provide a pre-packaged bag of food. At a choice pantry, patrons can come in and select the food that fits their needs.

At the St. Vincent de Paul pantry, volunteers provide a list and shopping cart and walk through the pantry with the person to help them select what they need and want for their family.  

Zengel explained that when people are handed a bag of preselected food, "there’s a lot of waste. For example, people in a family might not like green beans but they might like peas. We want to give them an opportunity to choose what their family wants and needs. This cuts down on waste, but also it just feels good to be able to choose. There’s dignity in choice, and we want to provide that as best we can."

Food pantries are also often thought of a place filled with nonperishable pre-packaged boxed and canned food. While the pantry is well-stocked with these items, thanks to a special program with area businesses, fresh food is on offer as well.

"We wanted to provide people with fresh food options, and so, we participate in a food rescue associated with different Kroger and Walgreens stores in the area. We often get donations of fresh bread, some fruit and dairy products, eggs, some protein. When folks come in it’s not just the nonperishable items...It’s also that fresh food that is part of having a healthy diet. We are blessed to be able to provide that through our relationship with food rescue," said Zengel.

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Ways to support the pantry and store

Because they are a choice pantry, said Zengel, staff is better able to keep tabs on inventory and to see what is popular and what is not. Those who would like to donate food, can call the store and find out where there are specific shortages and needs.

Food donations are always appreciated. "We’ve even had gardeners who donated some of their fresh produce this year. We’ve had donated tomatoes from neighbors in Campbell County. I will get a call and someone will ask 'I have some extras from my garden, can I drop it off?' And, I say, 'Yes, that’s awesome. We would love it.'"

People can also help the pantry with financial donations. The St. Vincent de Paul website has a "Give Donate" link that provides details on how to mail a check, as well as how to make online donations.

The store also accepts a wide variety of household items, clothing, furniture and other goods.

Another way to support the pantry and the store is to volunteer. Right now about five volunteers work at the pantry each week as well as store volunteers who help sort and stock donations. At the pantry, a volunteer is always on duty during the open hours. Additional volunteers may come in to help with  projects and needs, said Zengel.

"We are always happy to have volunteers," said Zengel."It’s one of those opportunities where, because we are working with people who are coming into get the food, it is a very personal experience that is important to what St. Vincent de Paul is about — person-to-person service." 

Donations of clothing, furnishings and home goods are appreciated at the St. Vincent de Paul store.

Grateful for a warm welcome

Zengel said she is pleased and grateful that the community has embraced the pantry and store. "We’ve been welcomed very warmly by the community of Cold Springs, and our customers have been fantastic as well. And we’re starting to see material donations pick up at the Cold Spring store...The generosity from the community has just been amazing. We are blessed to be there."

She added, "I just want to express again our gratitude to the community for welcoming us and supporting our neighbors in need who live in the area."

The St. Vincent de Paul pantry is open on Mondays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and on Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. To access the pantry, people can walk in during pantry hours. They will just need to show an ID.

The store is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the St. Vincent de Paul Northern Kentucky website or give them a call at (859) 572-2640.

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