Des Moines, IA: Food Truck to Serve Healthy Options, Provide Jobs for Easter Seals

By Megan Reuther  |

DES MOINES, Iowa –Food trucks have become a popular place to grab a bite in Des Moines. Now, one non-profit has plans for a food truck with a special mission.

“We are going to be launching a program hopefully this spring or summer. It’s going to be called Food Truck with a Purpose,” said Sherri Nielsen, President/CEO of Easter Seals Iowa.

Easter Seals Iowa helps people with disabilities live, learn, work and play in the community. The organization is looking for a truck and developing a menu. The goal is to provide job training to those they serve.

“They would have the opportunity to learn how to develop a menu, to market, to sell and to produce the product we will be serving,” said Nielsen.

They plan to use some of the fresh produce from the Easter Seals garden. About 30 clients will have the chance to work in the truck throughout the year.

“Our goal is to come up with healthy menu choices we could sell from a food truck to our community and the proceeds from this will go back to support our mission for the work we do in our community,” said Nielsen.

The Food Truck with a Purpose will take about $65,000 to start up. The project recently got a boost from a community challenge through the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.


“The Ignite Community Innovation Challenge was actually launched in 2014, and we held the second event in December 2015. It’s a unique opportunity to challenge, really the non-profit sector, to re-frame or re-imagine how they’ll carry out their mission,” said Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, the Chief Community Impact Officer of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

Thirty metro non-profits applied for the second Ignite Community Innovation Challenge. Eleven businesses funded the investment dollars.

“Really with all these different funders coming together, we can create one opportunity to really allow non-profit organizations to pause and rethink how they would do something if they had the funding,” Dethlefs-Trettin said.

Easter Seals won more than $25,000 to get the project going.

“We are really hoping by this summer that you’ll be able to come in and purchase products and enjoy our tasty affair that we’ll be selling,” Nielsen said.

Art Force Iowa’s Street Cred Studio was the runner-up. That project won a $20,000 investment.