Vashon Food Bank to move into downtown

The Food Bank is moving forward with plans to purchase the Vashon United Methodist Church’s education building.

While the Vashon Food Bank has been housed on the Sunrise Ridge property since the 1990s, the island organization’s headquarters will soon be changing.

The Food Bank is moving forward with plans to purchase the Vashon United Methodist Church’s (VUMC) education building, located adjacent to the church’s sanctuary space.

According to a press release, the Vashon Food Bank had planned to relocate to a new space for some time.

The Food Bank had looked into multiple properties on Vashon, including different buildings on the Sunrise Ridge property, the former K2 building, and the former DIG Nursery space, which had been donated to the organization in 2020, and later sold to its current owners.

Conversations with VUMC began in 2018 with the church’s previous pastor, Paul Mitchell, and continued amongst leadership transitions and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with purchasing the education building, Vashon Food Bank plans to build a new storage and distribution building where the church’s playground currently sits. The education building will be used for office space for the food bank, as well as flexible community space.

In addition, Vashon Food Bank will also pay VUMC a monthly ground lease for the land both buildings occupy.

According to Emily Scott, Vashon Food Bank’s executive director, the move to the education building will provide approximately 1,983 square feet more in office and community space.

With the new storage space, for which building plans are being developed, the Food Bank will also have 25% more storage space than they currently do at Sunrise Ridge.

However, it will be about two years until Vashon Food Bank moves completely into the new space at VUMC. Currently, it is undetermined what will become of the space the food bank currently occupies at Sunrise Ridge.

Scott, along with The Food Bank’s Board of Directors, is currently working with contractors and architects to have a more accurate cost estimate for the new storage space in the coming months.

As the project progresses, both the food bank and VUMC are committed to receiving input and feedback from the public about the new construction.

Scott is especially eager to have the new space, as the VUMC space has many benefits, such as being on the bus line, having visibility in town and having proximity to other services.

“We’re better able to engage with the community,” said Scott.

Pastor Mark Wagner of VUMC is also excited about the new move, as he stated the education building at the church has been underutilized.

Wagner added that the opportunity to sell the building to the food bank was an excellent opportunity, as the Vashon Food Bank provides “a crucial service we want to support.”

“We believe the best way to promote fullness of life for all people on Vashon Island is by fostering inclusive community collaboration,” Wagner added.

Scott and Wagner also stressed that while the Vashon Food Bank will be located on the VUMC campus, they will be neighbors but are also, as Scott described, “two distinct entities playing unique roles” within the Vashon community.

Scott added that bringing Vashon Food Bank’s campus into town brings issues of economic insecurity to the forefront as well.

Currently, the Food Bank serves between 220-250 island households each week. The move also helps makes downtown Vashon more “diverse, efficient and effective,” said Scott.