Food bank feeds community needs
By Jager Dzurcanin - Staff Reporter
The Des Moines Area Food Bank will be hosting a Thanksgiving service where families are given a basket of seasonal food with which to make a Thanksgiving dinner at home.
This service will be occurring in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Nov. 19 - 21.
Anybody, including High- line students or faculty with an ID, can partake in the to "make sure people have food for a Thanksgiving dinner in their own homes," Executive Director Kris Van Gasken said.
She went on to explain that this time of year marks an in- crease in family expenditures, as kids go back to school and need supplies, heat and electric bills rise, and holidays encour- age spending on food or pres- ents.
The food bank is open to each visitor once a month, but people will not be turned away from the Thanksgiving service if they had used the food bank within the month.
"We don't do regular service that week, but we get a lot of people, and a lot of people that come back," Van Gasken said, referring to visitors who used the normal service that month.
The Thanksgiving event re- places the regular services the food bank provides for that week.
The attendance of their Thanksgiving service, as well as their Christmas service, is gen- erally much higher than a nor- mal day of operation.
"Some people get here at 5" in the morning, Van Gasken said. "We're open at 9."
The food bank offers many other programs and services as well, including the Summer Meals Program and the Back- pack Program.
The Summer Meals Program entails food bank volunteers go- ing out into the community to make meals for kids at places such as libraries, schools, and parks.
"In the summer, every week- day morning we're making sandwiches for kids, and the food bank is still going on too," Van Gasken said.
Last year, the Summer Meals Thanks- giving service.
The Thanksgiving basket will include items such as tur- key or ham, stuffing, canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, and desserts.
This service is put on by the Des Moines Food Bank to Program served 26 different sites, and provided more than 47,000 individual meals.
The Backpack Program sends elementary school stu- dents home over the weekend with a backpack full of fresh food and single serving dinners, to ensure that children in the community do not experience food insecurity.
"Everybody feels that no- body should go without food," Van Gasken said, explaining the reasoning behind the Back- pack Program.
The general services of the food bank still remain its most effective method of preventing food insecurity and serving the most people within the com- munity, she said.
The food bank has crates of produce and boxed foods stacked to the ceiling, and near- ly a dozen refrigerators lining its walls, all of which are avail- abletoitsvisitors.
Van Gasken said that the Des Moines Food Bank has "part- nerships with grocery stores, the airport, Northwest Harvest, and church groups and local businesses."
Students or faculty with a Highline ID are welcome to use the Des Moines Area Food Banks regular services for free, which provides clients with one to two weeks' worth of food.
The Des Moines Food Bank also supports the Communi- ty pantry at Highline, which provides free and healthy food to students on a day-to- day basis.
"We don't want people who have school and are working to miss out just because they can't
get to a food bank," Van Gasken said, in reference to busy High- line students and staff.
The Des Moines Food Bank is located in the lower level of the Des Moines United Meth- odist Church at 22225 9th Ave S, Des Moines.
Their normal hours of opera- tion are 9 - 11:45 a.m., on Mon- days, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Anybody interested in vol- unteering can simply arrive during their hours of operation, and the same goes for people looking to make food or cash donations.
Food banks work year-round to make sure people in the community have enough food to eat.