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Mobile kitchen returns with free lunches

St. Vincent de Paul has raised enough money to bring the bus back to Sandy

After a year of being put on hold, St. Vincent de Paul’s mobile kitchen has returned to Sandy.

Known as the Big Blue Bus, the school bus turned mobile kitchen provides a free lunch on Wednesdays when it is parked next to the Sandy Community Action Center, 38982 Pioneer Blvd., from noon to 2 p.m.

In 2013, following five years in action, the bus stopped serving locations in Sandy, Estacada, Canby and Beaverton due to insufficient funds.

But through fundraising, St. Vincent de Paul was able to secure the means to keep it going for the rest of this year.

Paul Kresek of St. Vincent de Paul said the bus not only provides a meal free of charge, it gives people who might not otherwise have the chance to get out of the elements, when it’s particularly hot, cold or rainy — “which happens occasionally here,” Kresek said.

“It also provides a sense of community to the people who come on board,” Kresek said.

For those who work and volunteer at the Sandy Action Center, the Big Blue Bus is just one more step toward furthering their mission.

In addition to offering free meals on Wednesdays with the help of the bus, the Action Center provides food boxes for low-income families and seniors and community baskets once a month.

Dena Isbell of the Sandy Action Center said that since the bus has returned, it hasn’t been as well used as when it was last year.

“We’d like to build it back up to what we were doing before it went away,” Isbell said.

The bus provides lunch to anyone, not just low-income individuals, and according to Isbell, the food is quite good.

To help ensure that the bus isn’t suspended again, St. Vincent de Paul has put together a committee to look at the scope and mission of the bus, as well as to work to secure funding for the future.

Kresek said as the bus ages, it’s becoming more important to find the funds for a new bus.

“This one’s getting a little long in the tooth as they might say,” he said.

The bus accepts donations, but they are not required. To sponsor a meal, call 503-238-5567.