KP Bischoff Food Bank was back in operation Saturday, Dec. 19. at its new location at 12402 134th Avenue NW at the corner of the Key Peninsula Highway after a sudden and exhausting move.
“We are so happy to be open and start helping people again,” said Gail Torgerson, Bischoff’s secretary who coordinated the move. “It’s a little cramped but we’ll make it work. We don’t want people to go without our services.”
The situation was dire in early December when Bischoff faced eviction at the worst possible time — just before Christmas in the middle of a pandemic that has caused unemployment and food bank use to soar. (See “KP Bischoff Food Bank Forced to Move,” KP News, Dec. 2020.)
The move presented many logistical challenges and Torgerson credits the community that turned up when they needed to get the heavy stuff out. She said that on any given day there were half a dozen to 20 people helping with the move. To supplement the food bank’s truck and van, volunteers showed up with pickup trucks or loaded up their backseats to get all the food moved quickly and properly stored.
“We’ll be fine. We’ve never skipped a beat and we don’t intend to now,” said Kimberly Miller, board vice president and operations manager of the nearly 15-year-old food bank. “I just feel totally blessed that we could secure that building.”
“The location is smaller. Things will be tight but that’s OK,” she said. “It’s temporary and we have a home.”
Nonprofit food bank or not, finding a new landlord with reasonable terms while under threat of eviction was not easy, but Miller said they never lost faith. “The owner was so gracious, she totally understood our needs and allowed us a month-to-month lease.”
Landlord Jessica Kim told KP News she was glad to help the food bank under the circumstances, “… people need to have food.”
There is an adjacent space for rent that would make things more comfortable, but it would increase Bischoff’s monthly expenses substantially.
Miller said the food bank has potential partnerships lined up that may allow it to build a place of its own. Board members have been actively researching suitable parcels in line with existing zoning and land use rules. Miller said if they were lucky enough to find a place with a well and septic already installed, things would go much faster –– especially since Pierce County has always been supportive of food banks.
“There are already so many people who have come out of the woodwork ready and willing to help … I just know that once we actually purchase the property, people will be falling from the sky to help,” she said.
“Ben Paganelli and his wife (Susan) and that group (Key Peninsula Partnership for a Healthy Community) have always been very supportive of Bischoff and they know the value we bring,” Miller said. “While they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate for a build, as far as resources, they provide a wealth of support to us and have since their inception.”
Miller said for the time being the food bank may expand operating hours to six days a week, considering the serious increase in food insecurity, including for people who may never have needed to ask for help before. “We want to be there for them.”
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