Bellingham Food Bank Newsletter
Summer 2016
In This Issue
In their own words

What's been the best part of your summer?

"Learning how to swim!"

"Seeing my kids harvest veggies from our garden."

"Getting an apartment close to campus before the fall rush."

James Everidge
A Real Heavy Lifter

If you come by our food bank on a Wednesday you're likely to see this guy. Rain or shine, James volunteers as one of our "wheelie dudes," helping families by loading their groceries into their cars.

On average James assists 80 families per shift, and each family receives between 60-80 pounds of food. Doing some quick math, that means he lifts roughly 6,000 pounds each Wednesday. And in his seven years here, James has assisted families with more than two million pounds of groceries!

James hales from sunny California and is an avid San Francisco 49ers fan. (As you can imagine, this leads to a bit of good-natured ribbing from local Seahawks fans.) After high school he enlisted in the Army and spent more than 20 years traveling the world working as a radio operator. In the early 1980s after getting out of the military, James traveled to our area to visit his daughter. He decided to stay and make Bellingham his home.

Over the years James has worked for Bellingham Cold Storage, Target, and at local refineries. At one point when he was in between jobs, he found he needed to get some help at our food bank. Soon after he was asked if he might like to volunteer with us, and he's been assisting other food bank families ever since.

James's coworkers describe him as a "heck of a lot of fun to work with" and also "very caring and respectful." He says he's glad to be able to help others. He adds that he tries to be sensitive to people's needs, as some are talkative while others are more reserved. And whenever possible, he likes to keep people laughing, as he hopes to make everyone's food bank experience a positive one.

When he's not hefting tons of groceries, James spends time fishing for trout at local lakes, crabbing at Boulevard Park, playing dominoes, and watching old westerns on TV. He also enjoys helping friends work on their cars, and spending time with his grandkids.

Thank you James for all of your hard work! We couldn't do it without you.

Bellingham Food Bank
TTY 711 or 800-833-6388

1824 Ellis Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Food For Thought
Deep in the Dirt
and Loving It

This is my 11th summer at Bellingham Food Bank. Wow, things have really changed. I can remember when we didn't have the ability to manage any fresh vegetables at all. Now, thanks to donors, growers, volunteers, and you, each summer we're giving  out tons of Whatcom County's finest produce.

I remember the board meeting when we decided to figure out ways to give food bank families access to local fruits and veggies. It was really an aspiration, not a plan. "We should do more work with anything that relates to dirt and vegetables," said Suzanne, former board member, farmer, and artist. That's how it all started, with a simple stated interest in doing more.

Our first opportunity came from the then editor of the Bellingham Business Journal. He and his son had a garden that was growing more than they could eat. He called to ask if we would take donated veggies, and we said of course. Soon he followed up with a lesson in branding and marketing and our Victory Gardens program was born. The more we let the community know we wanted donated produce, the more donations we received. Home gardeners now donate 45,000 pounds of produce each year.

Soon after the advent of Victory Gardens, Small Potatoes Gleaning Project (SPGP) founder Rio Thomas told us she was retiring and asked if we were interested in taking over the program. We jumped at the chance. Just like that, we were deep in the dirt! And now each year SPGP rescues over 100,000 pounds of produce that would otherwise be plowed under.

I love that community members led to the development of our first agricultural programs. But, what I love even more is that these programs result in amazing produce for BFB families. The folks who come here are just like the rest of Bellingham. They want to eat nutritious foods that are locally grown. Now, through the efforts of BFB and our community, families are provided with beets, carrots, cabbage, kale, and so much more.

I'd encourage you to swing by the food bank and see what we are accomplishing. If it grows in Whatcom County, you'll probably find it here!


Mike Cohen
Executive Director


Mike Boxx and Boxx Berry Farm
Food Bank Champions
Mike Boxx is one of the most hardworking and humble people you'll ever meet. Every day he's out on his family farm tilling, planting, moving irrigation equipment around, and hustling with his team to get a seemingly never-ending amount of work done. The result is an extremely beautiful and productive farm that grows some of the best vegetables, berries, and flowers anywhere. In addition, Mike's Boxx Berry Farm is responsible for giving food bank families access to an abundance of fresh, local produce.

We first started working with Mike in 2009 when we did some gleaning at the farm, and then we contract-purchased a small amount of food. However, Mike wanted to do a lot more. He began planting row after row of food to donate to our food bank. It started with carrots--700-foot-long rows of carrots--followed by rows of corn, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Mike also invested in carrot-digging equipment to accommodate the thousands of pounds he'd planted on our behalf.

Each successive year Mike volunteers more of his scarce time and looks for more ways to make an impact. Now Boxx Berry Farm donates between 25,000 and 50,000 pounds of produce every year. And since he first started planting rows for us, Mike's farm has donated a total of more than 600,000 pounds of produce. Yeah, you read that right. 

Our Agricultural Programs Coordinator Max Morange and his Small Potatoes Gleaning Project volunteers water and shepherd the plants along until they're ready to harvest. But, it's really Mike and Boxx Berry Farm that make it happen. It's their land, water, tractor, and tools that are turning seeds into tons of vegetables. Mike is reluctant to take any credit, saying, "We really aren't doing that much." But we know better.

Bellingham Food Bank is committed to giving food bank families access to great local produce. Mike and his family farm are the single largest contributors to that effort. Additionally, Mike inspires other farmers to grow for the food bank. Next time you're shopping at the Boxx Berry Farm store, please tell them thank you for believing hunger is unacceptable. And for their dedication to helping feed our local families.

Lori B
Hooked on Good Food

Imagine being excited about going to a food bank.

Lori sure wasn't when she first thought about coming to get food for her family. Instead, she says she was terrified because she felt she'd be judged. "I thought it'd be like 'Hey hippie, get a job.'" Her fears quickly dissipated when she visited Bellingham Food Bank. "The people here are so friendly; there's no shame. Everybody is treated with dignity."

Lori's a health food enthusiast, and she appreciates nutritious foods. And that's something that excites her about BFB--the variety of healthy and fresh foods. "There are so many good things to choose from! There's almost every kind of bean: refried beans, organic green beans, dried beans." And she enjoys the bounty of local produce she gets. "This year I've already canned 23 quarts of pears and 44 quarts of pickled beets."

Some of her family members suffer from food allergies, and Lori also appreciates that she can often get alternative dairy and gluten-free products. She adds that she also loves the veggie starts BFB gives out, as this provides her family a way to grow their own food. "I didn't get into gardening until my 30s. But I was hooked after my first tomato plant. It grew to be about six feet in diameter, and we must have harvested more than a thousand cherry tomatoes from it."

Lori, her husband, and his son are currently staying with friends while waiting to move into a new rental home. Their application has been accepted, but their move-in date has been delayed. Still, she's glad to finally find something that's affordable and that will also provide space for them to have a home garden. "Finding affordable housing is a huge challenge for families in Whatcom County. There are often six applicants for every one that opens up."

Fluent in Spanish, Lori once taught English as a Second Language to business professionals in Mexico City. She's also volunteered as an interpreter at the Helping Hands Food Bank in Sedro-Woolley. And once her family is settled, Lori says she's excited to possibly volunteer here at our food bank, so that she can help other families.


Save the Date, Tell Your Friends, and Be There!




Loads of local food trucks, a beer garden, and live music.

Proceeds benefit Whatcom County food banks!