Operations Manager Ashley Moschel, left, Rainier Truck & Trailer owner Jeff Recor and Sales Manager Jeffrey Recor send Des Moines Area Food Bank Associate Director Barb Shimizu off on a test drive of the food bank’s newest van. The van was a $35,000 gift from the Des Moines Legacy Foundation.

The middle of a pandemic is a terrible time for a food bank to start losing crucial vehicles, but it’s also an exceedingly good time to have friends such as the Des Moines Legacy Foundation.

When one of the Des Moines Area Food Bank’s critical pick-up and delivery vehicles recently decided to give up the ghost, the scramble to find a replacement was rather brief for Executive Director Kris Van Gasken and Associate Director Barb Shimizu. Their friends at the Des Moines Legacy Foundation quickly leapt into action and approved a $35,000 grant for the purchase of a 2019 Ford Transit Van to replace the 1988 clunker.

“We so appreciate the Legacy Foundation,” Van Gasken said. “They’ve been supporting the community for years and are a great partner for the food bank.”

Legacy President Gene Achziger said the decision to help “was a no-brainer. The Legacy Foundation has been building community through philanthropy for 20 years and coming to the aid of a fellow non-profit as it battles the impact of the coronavirus dovetails completely with our mission.”

Shimizu predicted the new van “will have a long legacy of service” with the Food Bank. “We like to name our vehicles and we’ve already decided to name this one ‘Legacy One.’”

In keeping with both organizations’ focus on the community, the food bank made sure to buy locally. The van was secured through Rainier Truck and Trailer on Pacific Highway South. The company has been owned by the Recor family since 1993 and the local purchase will keep the sales tax money in Des Moines to further benefit the community.

The Food Bank has been providing food for families in need since 1966. Its service area includes the city of Des Moines, most of the city of SeaTac and parts of Normandy Park and Kent’s West Hill.  The number of new families has grown significantly as the coronavirus pandemic has put more and more families at risk. For many, it is the first time they have ever used a food bank.

Located in the basement of the Des Moines United Methodist Church, the Food Bank in open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11:45 a.m. It is also open the third Tuesdays of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. Long known for its regular food service, cooking class, garden truck, backpack, after-school meals and summer meals programs, the food bank is now stepping up to make sure that families who need help can continue to access food safely.

“We are having folks wash their hands upon entry, asking them to wear masks, and working to maintain safe distancing,” Van Gasken said. “We are prebagging some foods in order to speed up service but still maintaining an element of choice for fresh and frozen foods. For those who are more vulnerable and cannot safely enter the building, we are also offering orders to go on-line.”

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Des Moines Area Food Bank Executive Director Kris Van Gasken takes delivery of “Legacy One,” the food bank’s newest member of the agency’s vehicle fleet thanks to a $35,000 grant from the Des Moines Legacy Foundation.