The largest food pantry in Dallas County got a facelift. Over the past few months, Waukee Area Christian Services underwent renovations that were unveiled to the public for an open house on Tuesday, Nov. 19 in the lower level of Westview Church, one of eight partner Waukee churches.

While the facility has served the community for 14 years, the organization that now has three employees underwent improvements to better to serve the expanding community that’s used the services at a record rate.

According to a press release, WACS served a record 269 households in October, helping provide food to 867 individuals. Over the course of 2019, nearly a quarter more households were served as well.

Food is supplied through a number of purveyors including Hy-Vee and Fareway, church food drives and Food Bank of Iowa. They are looking to partner with ALDI as well.

With the rapidly growing client list using the group’s free services that also includes a no-cost healthcare clinic, the renovation served a number of purposes. One goal was to expand the waiting room to provide more access for clients and foster more relationships between WACS’ employees to provide the best care possible by sitting down with families asking for help.

“It’s more than food,” Stimple said. “The immediate need that somebody needs is that they’re hungry, and they’re short on funds to go to the grocery store. I think what happens when you sit down with them, you find out what else brings them in. So they may be having trouble with their water ready to be shut off or they’re looking for a job. So you kind of get to know what’s happening in their life so you can help connect them to the right resources.”

In addition to creating more space for personal connections and comfort, evening manager Kathy Kunath said it was also vital to help provide more privacy with the renovations.

Adjacent to the food pantry is the healthcare center. Where a sheet once draped, there’s now a door to better help divide the patient rooms and waiting area.

“This has given us more privacy because one of the things is it’s hard to keep quiet and you have to be thoughtful about the patients coming, so I think it will be a big help,” Kunath said.

As with the food pantry, the clinic is at no-cost to help clients that lack healthcare coverage or cannot afford their co-pay. Clients do not need to attend the eight partner churches and are not required to be of Christian faith.

With a rotating staff of physicians and nurses along with monthly chiropractic opportunities, care provided ranges from minor injury care, well-child exams, medical refills, and lab testing among. Physicals for school or work are also provided that might help “open doors” for students looking to play sport or someone needing a new job, receptionist Joyce Breckenridge said.

Next on the list for further improvements to service is to install a greenhouse to help prep plants for the garden to provide more produce. A parking lot separate from the church is also in the works.

Located at 1155 SE Boone Dr, Waukee, the food pantry is open Monday 2-6 p.m, Wednesday/Thursday 9-11 a.m., and the first and second Saturday 9-11 a.m. The clinic is open Monday from 5:30-7 p.m.