It started as a Facebook post by Mindy Poortinga in December to gauge interest in a vegan food bank in Las Vegas. Then, it turned into something so much bigger.
The amount of responses and enthusiasm to starting a vegan food bank in Las Vegas floored Poortinga.
“People wanted it to get started yesterday and were willing to get involved,” says Poortinga, who also is opening the city’s first vegan culinary school this spring. “There was no possible way I could do it on my own.”
Shortly thereafter, the LasVegan Food Bank began its operations.
The LasVegan Food Bank is the first food bank to offer all-vegan food in Las Vegas
Created to address the current crisis and those in need of food, the LasVegan Food Bank offers something other food banks in Las Vegas don’t: they’re entirely vegan.
“I’ve been seeing news footage of food banks and all had cheese, meat and animal products with very little fresh produce,” says Poortinga. “And while I don’t want anyone to go hungry, handing out what I know is ‘animal-cruelty in a box’ to people in need doesn’t feel quite right as a vegan”
She began to think about the exponential growth of the vegan community over the last six years and that there must be a need.
“There’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a vegan food bank with healthier options,” she says.
Poortinga reached out to her longtime friend, Trench Picone, who runs the non-profit RIR Animal Sanctuary regarding partnership. Picone joined on as the co-founder and opened the sanctuary for meetings and to store boxes and non-perishables.
The first meeting, which took place Dec. 13, brought in more than a dozen volunteers to share their ideas and assistance in making the vegan food bank in Las Vegas a reality.
Within a couple weeks, the team began accepting non-perishable donations from locals and vegan businesses.
Next, volunteers created a Venmo account to accept cash donations. The day of distribution, those funds are used to purchase fresh produce to top off the boxes.
The LasVegan Food Bank’s first distribution was Jan. 16, where they gave out nearly 20 boxes of groceries. The following Saturday, volunteers handed out more than 40 boxes of groceries.
Getting food boxes from the LasVegan Food Bank
For those in need of vegan groceries, pick-ups are every other Saturday from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Pick-up is located outside the gates of RIR Animal Sanctuary in Southwest Las Vegas. When people sign up, they will receive the address and additional pick-up information,
Pick-ups are contact-free.
In the coming weeks, the vegan food bank plans to open a website. There, people can sign up and register online for food. It includes the option to remain anonymous and allow someone to pick-up food on their behalf.
There are no qualifications to receive the food, it is open to anyone in need.
Additionally, Poortinga and the team are working to provide delivery options. The food bank is also in talks with Three Square for a partnership.
“In this day and age, there is no reason anyone should ever go hungry,” Poortinga says. “We are going to do our part and be sure that the our vegan community is fed.”
To volunteer or receive vegan boxes
For more information about volunteering or receiving boxes from the vegan food bank, head to the LasVegan Food Bank page on Facebook.
PHOTOS: LASVEGAN FOOD BANK