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People can't get to a grocery store easily. So these volunteers are driving them

Fellowship Story Showcase

People can't get to a grocery store easily. So these volunteers are driving them

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The Courier Journal's continued coverage of food insecurity in Louisville is supported by the University of Southern California Center for Health Journalism's 2018 National Fellowship.

Other stories in this series include:

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Dare to Care relocation may bring job training, grocery to the West End

Shelby Park's Save-A-Lot closed with little warning to neighbors

Sorry, we're closed: How everyone is hurt when grocery stores shut down

In 30 seconds: What you should know about food deserts in Louisville

Tuition or food? How college kids use food pantries to help food insecurity

Louisville has a fresh food problem. Can we fix it?

'A real crisis in Louisville': Readers respond to food desert series

How a low-income Louisville neighborhood became a fresh food oasis

How can cities end food deserts? Here are 4 solutions that worked

Louisville families shouldn't be struggling to find fresh food

No grocery store in your neighborhood? Join forces to create one

People can't get to a grocery store easily. So these volunteers are driving them

Would you shop at a mobile grocery store? Kroger is betting on it 

Where You Live Determines How Much Your Eggs Cost at Kroger

How some residents get their food in Louisville's food deserts

Louisville's vacant grocery stores find new tenants. But they won't sell food

How these Louisville companies are helping employees buy affordable fresh produce

Can indoor farming fix food deserts? These Louisville students think so

Kentucky's hunger initiative earns national attention. But thousands still need food

Downtown Louisville is growing rapidly. So why doesn't it have a grocery store?

Is crime driving grocery stores out of Louisville's low-income communities?

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When will downtown Louisville get a grocery store? Here's what we found

Everything you need to know about Kroger's mobile grocery store in Louisville

Kroger's mobile market brings fresh food to Louisville neighborhoods without access

Hitch a ride and check out the Hope Buss, a Louisville grocery ride service
Hitch a ride and check out the Hope Buss, a Louisville grocery ride service
Marty Pearl/Special to Courier Journal
Courier Journal
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Linda Vidales hadn't shopped at a Walmart in years.

The closest store is more than 7 miles from her home in Old Louisville, and without a car, the 68-year-old would have to transfer buses twice to reach it.

In the past month, however, Vidales has visited the store twice thanks to a free ride service from a new nonprofit that hopes to help neighbors get food more easily.

The Hope Buss, founded in 2018, is a group of volunteers who've begun organizing free monthly grocery trips for people who don't have personal transportation.

The volunteers see the trips as a simple solution to a growing problem.

In neighborhoods across Louisville, grocery stores are closing at an increasing rate, forcing more residents to travel to markets outside their neighborhoods or to purchase food at higher-priced convenience stores.

People who do not have personal vehicles are hit especially hard by the closures. And while city leaders consider long-term solutions that can reduce the issues, volunteers with the Hope Buss have launched the ride service for residents who need help now.

"To go to the Walmart and just lollygag in a Walmart for an hour or so, it's a nice thing, it really is," Vidales said.

The ride service is based at One Church in Old Louisville, where Hope Buss founder Stachelle Bussey serves as the worship director.

Once a month, volunteers with the Hope Buss will gather at the church to give people rides to the grocery store of their choosing — be it Kroger, Aldi or another company.

The nonprofit has rented vans for the trips, and volunteers offer to drop people off at their homes once they've finished shopping.

(Also, yes, the trips are safe. On Saturday, I joined Bussey and Vidales on their ride to Walmart and had no misgivings.)

Bussey and Hope Buss member Angel Todd said the biggest issue they've experienced so far is convincing people the rides are actually free.

"For something to happen and it not cost you anything is slightly hard to believe," Bussey said. "I think in our communities, especially in some of our communities where they've kind of been damaged by some things, where people struggle for resources, I think free is a scary word. Free sometimes is going to cost you something."

 

Bussey was a social worker before she was ordained as a minister in 2017. She said she thinks God has called her to meet the needs of marginalized communities, and volunteering her time to give free rides is an easy way to do that.

"Everybody's not hungry. Everybody's not homeless," Bussey said. "Sometimes people have the money, they just need a chance to go."

Todd and Bussey said they hope to expand the ride service to other neighborhoods after developing partnerships with other churches and organizations.

On Saturday, they spent the morning giving people rides from the City View Park apartments in Russell and the afternoon giving rides from One Church in Old Louisville.

In total, the volunteers provided transportation for more than a dozen people.

"If was even just one person, we'd still do it the next month," Todd said. "We keep running into people who it is a need for them, and they're taking us up on it."

The Hope Buss will next offer rides on May 11 at One Church, 1212 S. Fourth St.

On June 7, the group will host a health fair and grocery trips at Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in Smoketown. And on June 8 and July 13, it will return to One Church, along with the City View apartments in Russell.

[This story was originally published by Courier Journal.]