* Food For Thought: Righteous Leadership
* Feature: Milestones
* Feature: Why Are We Growing?
* Upcoming Events: Food For Thought Series & more
* Announcement: New Satellite Food Bank
* Staff Corner: Gleaning Guru
* Getting to Know: Student Advocate
Mike & John
Food For Thought
Righteous Leadership

I was planning to write something else, but plans change. A mentor of mine passed away unexpectedly this weekend and it's causing me to reflect a bit. John Barbour was the director of the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging in Vermont. I worked there for two years just after completing a year of service with the VISTA program when I was 24. I didn't realize it then, but John was a real mentor.

John was pretty different than me. He was remarkably patient and calm. He was a passionate advocate for low-income community members, always quick to assess new programs and policies based on how their outcomes would impact those who have little. The quality I loved most about John was his righteous anger. You didn't get to see it often, but he could get riled up. It was usually when somebody proposed something that would do harm to or take essentials away from people who were in great need. John wouldn't stand for that and he was never afraid to speak up to anyone and speak out for others. John was a leader in the purest sense of the word.

I wanted to share a bit about John because he influenced me more than I initially knew. Though I didn't work with him for too long, the lessons I learned from him have resonated with me for decades. John's teachings really have helped me focus my work on issues of social justice. He has helped me remember to have empathy for the people I have opportunity to try to help and support. John's teachings, I hope, have helped me lead by trusting, supporting, and inspiring the great and committed food bank staff.

I hope my work would make him proud. I remain passionately
committed to the food bank's work in his honor. RIP John Barbour.

-Mike Cohen
Executive Director
Our Tuesday satellite distribution is moving to Christ The King!

We thank Cordata Elementary for a year of hosting us and for helping us get great food to our clients.

New Tuesday Distribution:

Christ the King Community Church
4173 Meridian Street
5:30-6:30 pm

Opens August 1
Celebrating Successes

200 Gardens

2017 marks a Garden Project milestone of over 200 raised bed gardens built. This represents 260 individuals or families that received two years of education, supplies and mentorship support to ensure their success with organic home gardening, where all the benefits of the garden are theirs to enjoy.

We believe in healthy soil, healthy food and healthy communities. Volunteers, staff and the garden recipients bring this program to life. Together we grow community from the ground up.

The Garden Project accepts waitlist applications for gardeners and mentors year round. Contact Julia Raider to get involved:

25 Years Stamping Out Hunger

Our community has once again come together to amass an astonishing amount of food that will feed our neighbors for months to come! A record-breaking 68,579 pounds of food filled 129 totes in our storage warehouse through the Stamp Out food drive on May 13, and is being sorted slowly but surely.

We thank those who contributed nonperishable food and other donations and invite small groups to come help us sort it.
Contact Drew Butler to inquire about sorting opportunities:

Alternatives to Hunger Turns 45

Did you know? Bellingham Food Bank's original name is Alternatives to Hunger. The organization was started in 1972 by a group of volunteers out of a donated home behind a Unitarian church. They procured food using government grants and community donations to distribute to anyone in Bellingham who expressed need, just like we do today.

The food bank was originally intended as an emergency service to assist people with short-term needs, but client visits quickly grew and became regular, demonstrating that the need for long-term food assistance is not new to Bellingham. In 1972, one month recorded 450 visits to the food bank. Today, monthly visits exceed 13,500. We are proud to feed our neighbors in need with the dedication of volunteers and the generosity of our community. Thank you for helping in our fight against hunger.
Staff Corner
Gleaning Guru

Eliza Mae Andrews :  joined our team as Gleaning Coordinator in May and has gleaned and worked on farms since 2011. She not only brings agricultural expertise to her role as Gleaning Coordinator, but has a community focused attitude. In her spare time, she enjoys bike tours, backpacking and kayaking. She is looking froward to growing with and for the BFB!
Why Are We Growing?
ALICE Explains

Hopefully, most would agree that the Bellingham Food Bank (BFB) does a great job of fulfilling its mission to help reduce hunger. Less well known may be another aspect of our work, to educate the community on the problem of hunger. We constantly ask, "why are people hungry in Bellingham?" so we're mindful of the structural issues that underlie hunger- principally inequity.

On May 16, we hosted another segment in our "Food for Thought" series with a moderated panel discussion, inviting the directors of two partner agencies to ponder, "Why are We Growing?" Greg Winter of the Opportunity Council and Peter Thiesen of the United Way joined Mike Cohen to discuss trends, challenges, and good works when it comes to increasing demand for all our services. In recent years, the number of client visits at the BFB has grown by double digits. No surprise, the directors all pointed to the lack of affordable housing, the decrease in real wages, and the de-funding of mental health services as the drivers of what is becoming a public health crisis in our community, homelessness.

Many individuals and families in Whatcom County have housing and jobs but struggle mightily nonetheless. This was the conclusion of the ALICE report issued by United Way. 42% of households in Whatcom County do not earn enough income to cover a bare-minimum budget. Surprising to me was that the largest expense in a family budget is often child care.

When asked about good works underway at each agency, Mike pointed to an improved "shopping model" food distribution system, Greg announced a new program of financial mentoring with youths and parents, and Peter spoke of the value of partnerships and collaboration at United Way. We can be grateful for non-profits that respond to socio-economic ills, but all try to do more to address the systemic issues that create them.

The Food For Thought event series is a great way to join members of our community in learning more about the work of the food bank and the issues it addresses. Stay tuned for the 2018 roster of events, and don't miss the 2017 finale on September 14!

-Jamie Donaldson
President, Bellingham Food Bank Board of Directors

Getting to Know
Student Advocate

Alex McIntyre:  got involved with BFB through his studies of Eco Tourism, Urban Planning, and Sustainable Development at Whatcom Community College and Western Washington University. An ethnographic research paper led him to observe and document the food bank experience first-hand after never having been to a food bank. He was impressed by Bellingham Food Bank outpacing the statistics he had learned from his research in the areas of clients served and pounds of food distributed, and wanted to get more involved. 

Alex has become an integral part of our volunteer team, riding the Grocery Rescue truck, sorting produce, restocking during distribution, helping clients take their groceries to their vehicles, building garden beds, and spreading awareness on behalf of the food bank to audiences of students and professors.

As a new graduate, Alex has exciting goals ahead of him. He recently took on the role of Food Systems Organizer for Community to Community, where he will work with food policy and advocacy. He seeks to travel in order to "diversify (him)self and explore," but plans to return to Bellingham as home after seeing more of the world. He ultimately hopes to affect change in food systems on a regional or national level.

"I like to connect with clients outside of the food bank so they feel more welcome when they're here. I find the work I do with BFB fulfilling, and that's why I keep on coming back!"
Upcoming Events

Septe mber 14  - Food For Thought: Celebrating Food Heroes

Over the years, we have collected millions of pounds of food and generous sums of money from the dedication of members of our community. At this very special luncheon, we will gain insight from three folks who we consider Food Heroes. Come be inspired by their committed generosity.

Mike Hammes of RAM Construction made sure everyone got a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Kim Sutton spearheads the county-wide Feed The Need drive, and says its the best thing her team does all year.

Chris Eltrich has passionately organized a peanut butter drive since 2009, and raises funds for BFB through his congregation.

RSVP by September 12 to | 360.676.0392

September 30  - 5th Annual Feed the Need Food Truck Round Up

Industrial Credit Union's benefit for Whatcom County Food Banks - the 5th Annual Food Truck Round Up - returns to Civic Stadium on Saturday, September 30, 2017. The Food Truck Round Up features local food tr ucks, a beer garden serving Kulshan Brewing Co. beer and live music by SpaceBand. This family-friendly event presents a fun opportunity to try food from local mobile eateries and support a great cause. Proceeds raised at the event are divided between over a dozen food banks serving all areas of Whatcom County.
Tickets for the Food Truck Round Up go on sale at the end of August and are $7 per person. Attendees then purchase Truck Bucks - the event currency - to make purchases at the food trucks, beer garden and merchandise area. Due to the popularity of this event, it is strongly recommended that those planning to attend purchase their entry tickets and Truck Bucks in advance at any Industrial Credit Union location in order to skip long lines at the event. For more information about the Food Truck Round Up, please visit