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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Christ Kitchen can repair its food truck thanks to community donations

Kim Kelly, executive director of Christ Kitchen, a nonprofit that helps women gain job skills, talks about the generosity of the Spokane community and about donations they received to fix the transmission on their food delivery van. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Kim Kelly, executive director of Christ Kitchen, a nonprofit that helps women gain job skills, talks about the generosity of the Spokane community and about donations they received to fix the transmission on their food delivery van. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Christ Kitchen food truck is an integral part of its faith-based work training program, but it’s smoke-spewing engine and balky transmission gave out last fall.

The organization started asking for donations to pay the $7,000 estimated price for needed engine work and a new transmission for the 1967 van, but things were going slowly until last week, when a donor stepped in with a $5,000 check, said executive director Kim Kelly.

Now the van is scheduled to go to Martin’s Auto Service for engine work followed by a trip to Louie’s Automotive and Transmission. Kelly said she hopes to have the truck up and running again by the end of the month.

Christ Kitchen provides job skills and life skills training for low-income women who are coming out of homelessness, drug addiction and other struggles. More than 60 women have graduated from the program since 2015. “Really, we are a restart,” Kelly said.

The organization makes and sells dry food mixes and offers full service catering. The food truck, operated entirely by the women, visits various events during the summer. “That’s how we do what we do,” Kelly said.

The food truck is a last step before the women graduate from the program because they’re on their own in the truck. They sell paninis, soup and salads. “The lentil tacos are absolutely the most favorite,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, and we miss it.”

The food truck usually goes out six to 10 times a month during the summer, and the truck being out of commission has hurt the program. “We’ve turned down quite a few events already,” she said.

The food truck provides a huge boost in confidence for the women, who are completely in charge of running it, Kelly said. “We see a confidence we’ve never seen before in them,” she said. “They miss it a lot.”

Kelly said they knew the transmission – the original from 1967 – was going bad. They had to add a quart of transmission fluid every time it was used. Clouds of blue smoke would billow from the engine. When it died they had it towed to the home of an employee to avoid having it vandalized while it was awaiting repairs.

The truck has been vandalized before while parked at the Christ Kitchen facility on North Monroe Street. “We had it completely broken into,” Kelly said. “They stole our $5,000 generator and all our equipment. It was bad. Again our community just rallied hard. Within a week we were up and running.”

But this spring, pleas on social media had only brought in $1,300 for repairs over several weeks. But someone with the means to help saw the request and stepped up to help the organization. He researched the organization’s mission and decided he liked what they stood for, Kelly said. She said she’s not authorized to reveal the donor’s name but she’s grateful for his help.

“We would still be fundraising,” she said. “We’re very excited to be up and running.”

A new generator, bought with the community’s generosity last year when the old one was stolen, is mounted to the truck’s front bumper. It fires up at the touch of a button, ready to help women serve soup and lentil tacos as they learn new skills to improve their futures.

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