This has already been an interesting summer for our food bank. Thanks to our donors and CenturyLink we were able to raise some substantial funds through an awesome opportunity that our community REALLY responded to. Due to the fact that many families miss the free meals provided by schools, we are allowing our families to visit our food bank two times per week and we increased the amount of food each family can bring home each visit. Additionally, we are partnering with Lummi Nation and Agape Service Project on some innovative hunger relief efforts. Even with all that, it's about to get even more interesting.The recent passing of Paul Allen had me reflecting on our food bank's interaction with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the role philanthropy has played in our food bank's growth. I am usually excited, but never nervous applying to a foundation for support-until I decided to ask the Allen Foundation to help us buy toilet paper.

It was early Spring 2012 and Bellingham Food Bank had decided to give its families access to a couple of non-food items. Food stamps won't pay for things like soap, detergent, or toothpaste and we regularly heard from families that they need support with these types of items too. Our food bank decided to regularly offer families toilet paper and baby diapers when they visited the food bank. There is ample opportunity to make jokes about a food bank offering diapers and toilet tissue, but we decided on these two items because they had been requested by our families and we were able to find a vendor that could ship them to our food bank weekly at a well-below wholesale price.

We asked the Allen Foundation to support a wide variety of activities including the purchase of local produce. But, we were still asking them to grant us $10,000 annually for toilet tissue. The Allen Foundation supports lots of innovative and wildly creative activities across the globe...and we were asking to buy toilet paper.

Fast-forward some months, and we got the grant! We began buying a lot of toilet paper, and we haven't stopped. A story I shared with the Allen Foundation, and many more since, was my experience as we begin distributing toilet paper. I staffed the toilet paper area of our food bank when we first started offering it because I was curious as to how it would be received by families. I learned quickly that it was VERY appreciated by families. That made me proud to be able to offer another essential item, and sad to learn how valuable something as simple as toilet paper is for food bank families. What really hit home was the middle schooler who looked to his mother when receiving two rolls of toilet paper as he asked "does this mean I don't have to steal it from school anymore?"

Through this whole process, I learned and re-learned many things: We can't be too proud or passive about talking clearly and explicitly about what we and the families we work with need; being clear about the food bank's specific needs is the best way to involve supporters; and finally, I know we all hope for a day when a low-income middle schooler's access to toilet tissue isn't dependent on stealing.

Over time our food bank has been able to expand its reach and programming because our supporters have decided to and continue to invest in our initiatives. As we continue to respond to the diverse and growing needs of food bank families, we will continue to involve and educate our supporters about what it takes to add any new activities.

-Mike Cohen,
Executive Director
Saturday, November 17
Greater Bellingham Running Club Turkey Trot 5k Fun Run & Walk

5K course starts and ends at Squalicum Creek Park at 9 AM

All proceeds (100%) donated to the Bellingham Food Bank
Awards for 1st overall male & female runner
Parking is very limited. Please walk, run, or carpool to the event.
No dogs on the course. Strollers welcome!
Chip-timing by Budu Racing

Pre-Race Day Online Registration:
All kids ages 10 and under: FREE
GBRC members ages 11 and older: $10.00
Non-GBRC members ages 11 and older: $20.00

Day of Race Registration (if not sold out):
All kids ages 10 and under: $5.00
GBRC members ages 11 and older: $15.00
Non-GBRC members ages 11 and older: $30.00

Please visit the GBRC website at to register for this event.

Trader Joe's Bellingham loves our food bank! They support us in a variety of ways.

Grocery Rescue
We send our grocery rescue truck to pick up food from Trader Joe's 5 days a week, and they are one of our most organized pick ups. We often get over 1,000 pounds of produce, dairy and bread from their store to then distribute to families at the food bank.

Nonperishable Sorting
Trader Joe's crew members volunteer at the food bank doing nonperishable sorting in groups. It is part of the store's culture to not only allow this but to promote it as a good use of crew member's time!

Food Drives
The Bellingham store has hosted two food drives a year for the last few years, giving shoppers a chance to include the food bank while making their own selections. Hundreds of pounds of both nonperoshable and fresh foods have been donated as a result. Their next drive is November 7-19.

Hunger Awareness
Crew members are encouraged to attend tours of BFB as part of gaining a deeper understanding of the Trader Joe's store values. After witnessing what happens to food that gets donated from the store, crew members have shown increased care in handling donations and promoting the grocery rescue program.

Trader Joe's Bellingham is just one of many local businesses that make our work a success. We thank the local business community for supporting us!

The 2018 county-wide Feed the Need food drive, led by Industrial Credit Union and Haggen stores, generated over $150,000 in support for Whatcom County food banks! This year's goal was exceeded thanks to those who attended the Food Truck Round Up, ICU members, donors at Haggen stores, Cascade Radio Group's online donors and corporate sponsors-over 1,000 individuals and business donors.

Thanks for feeding the needs of hungry families in our community once again!

This summer, we welcomed Skylar and Amanda to our Grocery Rescue truck staff after a combined 9 years of volunteer experience with us.

The couple enjoys food in manyways-growing, cooking, fermenting, and of course, eating!

Why do they love BFB?

Skylar: because I get to help reduce our cycle of waste, build new relationships with the exceptional volunteers, staff and community members that make the Food Bank possible!

Amanda: I feel strongly that everyone should have access to quality food and have greatly enjoyed working towards that goal with my role in food rescue. I see first-hand just how much we are capable of cutting down on food waste!
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