SNOHOMISH — A label is taped on the dashboard above the instrument panel.
It says, “Check oil level daily,” in capital letters. The refrigerator is buckled to the wall. The coffee pot, once it gets going, can produce 30 cups in minutes.
The old police tactical van was converted about 20 years ago into a food truck for Snohomish County Volunteer Search & Rescue. The volunteers bring the truck on nearly every mission, about 100 annually. The truck is used to feed first responders, volunteer rescuers and the families of the missing.
Now it is nearing the end of its life.
Debra Draper calls the truck “Myrtle the Turtle.” She is the treasurer and cook for the Search & Rescue operations support unit. She describes her volunteer work as “nutrients and compassion and distraction.” The families of missing hikers often spend time with her while they wait for news.
Replacing the food truck is the goal of a new fundraising drive for Search & Rescue, and the volunteers are hoping donors will step up. Much of their equipment and vehicles are paid for with donations and grants.
A new food truck might run $120,000. If they can’t afford that option, they’ll find a used truck to refurbish. They hope to get it figured out before next year’s hiking season.
Their usual fundraising avenues could take five years to reach that goal, volunteer John McKeon said.
A food truck is “something we can’t live without,” said Tim Dehnhoff, president of the operations support unit.
This year, volunteers with Search & Rescue logged more than 10,280 community service hours on missions from January through early September. That doesn’t count the time spent in training, fundraising, or representing the team at events..
McKeon and his wife joined as volunteers after their son was rescued from a local mountain in 2008. He’s seen the food truck in action as a family member and as a rescuer.
McKeon knows that bad weather, a broken bone, or a lack of preparedness can change a life. The volunteers will drop everything to come help, he said, and they bring home-cooked meals.
Snohomish County Volunteer Search & Rescue is seeking donations for a new food truck. The group also has other ongoing donation and volunteering needs. Volunteers with backcountry experience are welcome, but support roles also are available, including cooking, mapping and computer work.
For more information, go to www.scvsar.org or call 1-425-388-3328. A website revamp is launching soon, and there is a newly developed newsletter that anyone can sign up to receive. There also is an online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/help-us-replace-our-food-truck.