Catholic Charities' new 'market' to serve Tulsans in need

Tulsa World
Tim Stanley

Along with a better variety of healthy foods, an innovative new grocery store-style approach to feeding Tulsa’s hungry should help bring more dignity to the process, a longtime charitable food provider said.The Market at Catholic Charities, located on the organization’s Tulsa campus, 2450 N. Harvard Ave., was officially introduced on Monday, with Mayor G.T. Bynum and other city leaders on hand for a ribbon-cutting and blessing. 

The market, expected to open to the public next week, was created as part of a $5 million renovation to the site and comes with an adjoining commercial kitchen.

Catholic Charities, which has been providing food to Tulsa’s hungry for almost 70 years, has “always been kind of a food bag or a food parcel kind of operation. And we’re proud of our history,” said Deacon Kevin Sartorius, Catholic Charities CEO.

“But we know that with this market, we can provide so much more dignity to the client, to the people we serve, to our friends and our neighbors here in north Tulsa.” 

Additionally, the renovation tripled Catholic Charities’ existing warehouse space, expanded freezer and cooler spaces, and added a new loading dock.

But it’s the market and kitchen — under the direction of Michael Fusco, Catholic Charities head chef — where clients will experience the most direct benefits. 

The facility provides carts at the door and is set up to look like a grocery store, but with no charge for any of the items.

“Thanks to our partnerships in the community, we have an abundance of fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat — way more than nonperishable foods to give away,” Sartorius said.

Ready-made meals will also be available, prepared in the kitchen.

Sartorius added: “By allowing people to choose what they like, it helps them feel good about what they put on the table for their families, and it helps us reduce food waste from giving people food items they won’t eat.”

The kitchen will also be home to a new culinary training program.

Mike Neal, Tulsa Regional Chamber president and CEO, said, “What we are anticipating is that we’re going see a lot of people come here not just to get great meals but to learn a career. 

“All of our restaurants these days are challenged to find workers, to find cooks, wait-staff, any kind of job you can find in a restaurant. And they’re going to be providing that very important training right here.”

Bynum said the market is just the latest example of Catholic Charities stepping up for the community. He praised the organization, as well, for its responses to the 2019 floods, the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Afghan refugee crisis. “Thank you so much for all that you’re doing for our community,” the mayor said. “You continue to find ways to do more, identifying the need that’s out there and how we can do a better job of serving and being that real presence of God for people who need it.”

Catholic Charities' new 'market' to serve Tulsans in need | Tulsa World