July 12- Food For Thought Series:
BFB Farmers Market & Open House
Mingle with BFB agriculture partners in a market setting and tour our facility-for the first time, or again!
Catering provided by
Haggen: Market Street Catering
RSVP by July 9
May 12 -
26th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Letter Carrier Food Drive
You can fill a bag or box with nonperishable foods and place it next to your mailbox for your postal carrier to pick up to participate.
Food For Thought
Stamp Out Hunger This Spring
The Stamp Out Hunger food drive is coming right up! On
May 12th letter carriers across the country will collect donated food and bring it to hunger relief organizations in every county in America. We are lucky that our Bellingham carriers are so excited about this food drive, and that our community is so generous.
The Stamp Out Hunger food drive is the largest food drive of the year-nationally and locally. In 2017, the food drive collected 71 million pounds. Bellingham letter carriers typically bring in over 30 tons of food to our food bank. They get lots of help picking up that food from friends, retired carriers, and family members. There has been tremendous leadership at our local post office from carriers who care
deeply about fighting hunger. "It's by far my favorite day of the year," says letter carrier Ruth Davis, who many consider the mother of our local Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The carriers have done a lot to make Bellingham a top-performing city when it comes to this food drive; some take it personally if donations are down.
They volunteer extra time
getting signs out and promoting the event, doing their best to make sure all of Bellingham remembers to leave food out for the food drive.
It's an amazing day at our food bank as truck after truck shows up laden with donations. We start the day with at least 120 large, empty bins at our warehouse. By the end of the day, if things go as planned, we are scrambling to find any empty containers to take in the mountains of food that arrive. The donated food we receive this day lasts for months, and it takes us weeks to sort and organize it all. The donated nonperishable food we receive allows us to focus our food purchases on fresh items like milk, eggs, produce, and protein-critical foods that aren't as abundant in our donation streams.
This is the easiest food drive to participate in-just remember to leave nonperishable food out for your carrier on May 12th. They, and I,
will be very happy.
Partnering With Small Farms to Fight Hunger
This small program-now entering its
7th year at BFB- is a hybrid of gleaning and forward contracts with new farms. Farms are paid up front in late winter for crop production that volunteer gleaners will harvest, thus minimizing risk and expenses associated with testing a new wholesale market for growers just getting their business feet under them. Most small- to mid-scale farms that sell vegetables gravitate toward the farmers market or direct-to-consumer models, which work great for individuals buying weekly groceries but not so great for institutions serving groceries to as many families as BFB does.
Ever since we started buying produce straight from Whatcom County farms in 2008, we realized that we'd need more vendors to support our efforts to make fresh and healthy veggies a mainstay of our work. We knew that adding new wholesale crop production might come with some stubbed toes to any agricultural business, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible. From the get-go, we want farms to know that we expect BFB will be needed to address food security in the coming year, and we have a vested interest in farmers being around too. We also know that most farms are strapped for cashflow at the beginning of the year when they actually see some of their greatest costs. So we pay them up front. Voila! Seed Money-get it?
Over the years we've refined our process and learned which crops work best for harvest parties with our gleaning volunteers. We know that our partner farms have learned about anti-hunger work in the community as well. What's more, many of the farms that have started as Seed Money partners liked selling to BFB and graduated to larger wholesale production.
In 2018, 40% of our farm purchasing relationships will have started with a Seed Money contract.
This year, look out for winter squash from
Vertical Fog Farm and
Small Acres Farm, beets from
City Sprouts Farm and
Foothills Flowers, and cabbage from
Pollen Folly Farm. We can't wait!
We are often asked about what kind of food we can accept. Many people's idea of a food bank consists of dented canned foods being handed out in a line. We aim to far exceed our client's and supporter's expectations by offering fresh dairy, vegetables and fruits as well as frozen proteins, in addition to a great variety of nonperishable, nutritious staple items, all of which are distributed in a grocery store shopping style. While we get the bulk of our fresh produce from our Grocery Rescue, Small Potatoes Gleaning Project and Food Bank Fresh programs, six percent of our produce comes from home Victory Gardeners.
We launched the Victory Garden program more than ten years ago when many didn't know we liked or could accept donations of fresh produce. The more we promoted the program, the more food we received. Now, many community members know we LOVE fresh veggies-we even want your excess zucchini. The fresh, local produce we receive through the Victory Garden program is absolutely loved by the families that visit our food bank. Giving low-income families access to the food they want but cannot afford is one of the true joys of working and volunteering at our food bank.
During some of the most bountiful years we have received 50,000 pounds of home garden produce. Last year our Victory Garden donations were a bit down, but we are confident they will grow in 2018. So, as you begin planning your garden, remember, if you have any excess, we are thrilled to accept it as a donation.
It's Gleaning Season!
How to Take Part in a Glean
Calling all strong backs and bleeding hearts:
WE WANT YOU! While most of our volunteering opportunities rely on individuals to have regular availability the same time each week, gleaning is both self-selective and periodic. You decide what gleans you want to take part in and let us know.
2. Click the red button "Become a Small Potatoes volunteer today."
3. Fill out the form that appears and click "Submit."
*Note: you only need to register once to receive all future glean notifications.
You're all signed up!
From here, you'll receive emails every time there is a glean event you can sign up for.
Here's how to sign up for a glean:
1. When you receive a glean opportunity email, click the link to the sign up form.
2. You'll be taken to the Gleaning Opportunities page where you can click the glean you want to sign up for.
*Note: the sign up link will not be clickable if the glean is already full.
3. Fill out the fields on the form that appears and click "Sign Up."
4. You'll receive an email confirming your sign up and containing helpful details
about the glean!
Getting To Know
Food Acceptance Guidelines
Ever wonder what types of foods we can accept and distribute to our clients? Here are some FAQs about donating food to our food bank.
I have a 5 lb container of bulk rice. Can you take it?
YES! We can repackage bulk foods if they are clean, dry and still fresh.
I grow apples and pears, but can't eat them all myself. Can you take some?
YES! We love homegrown produce-please no ground-fallen fruit or mold, but other imperfections are A-OK!
I bought the wrong yogurt. Can I donate it to you if it's unopened?
YES! We accept unopened fresh items as long as they have not been left out of refrigeration, and unopened frozen items if they have never been thawed.
Can you take glass jars? I read that food banks don't like items in glass because they break.
YES! While it's true that we break a glass jar every now and again, we can accept foods in glass. Pasta sauce, baby food, and peanut butter are some items we love to receive that may be in glass.
What happens to food that gets donated that you can't give to families?
If food is too old or in poor shape, it either feeds an animal, turns into compost to grow new food, or is disposed of (while recycling its container properly, or course).
Can you take donations besides food?
YES! We regularly distribute toilet paper and baby diapers, but the rest is food. We also accept monetary donations that we use to make smart food purchases, and can multiply one dollar by
ten with some wholesalers!