Food For Thought
2017 Moments

2018 is here! We kicked off this year's Food For Thought education event series with a presentation about addressing childhood hunger, getting us further in the process of new program development. We're excited for another great year after the one we had in 2017, which was awesome-there is really no other way to describe it. The thing I like about the definition of "awesome" is that it doesn't necessarily mean good; it's a multi-dime nsional word. And, life at the food bank is always very dynamic.

2017 was our busiest year on record with over 180,000 client visits. That means in the last two years our food bank has become 25% busier. The need continues to grow, but our work to rescue, glean, and buy more food helped us keep up with demand. Families using our food bank still leave with at least $100 worth of food. We are now the busiest food bank in Western Washington, and probably the state.

Our food bank has a fleet of three trucks that get all types of great food from food drives, grocers, and local growers. Pretty cool huh? Now they look cool too. We just had all three vehicles wrapped so they are easy to identify. If you see these trucks on the road give a big thumbs up  to the folks in the cab.  

After operating one of our satellite food pantries at Cordata Elementary School for a year, we decided to try a different location to see if more families in need would access the service. Christ the King (CTK) offered us use of a great room in their Meridian Street location and more families started using the food bank immediately. Now more than 50 families visit this satellite site each week. CTK is an awesome partner and it feels great to get our food bank to this part of Bellingham.

Two of our staff members welcomed beautiful new babies this past year. I'
m particularly proud  that the food bank offers a pretty progressive (for this country) parental leave policy. New moms and dads can take up to three months paid leave when they welcome a baby to their family. We wish this were more the norm than the exception. Even better than this policy is getting to see these new food bank family members when they visit. Productivity slows but the good feelings are well worth it.

Looking forward to what 2018 will bring!

-Mike Cohen,
Executive Director
Addressing Childhood Hunger
We Must Do Better

It's a tough reality to grasp, but despite Whatcom County's agricultural bounty, there are way too many hungry kids in our community. Thirty-five percent of the food bank's clients are children, but what do we know about childhood hunger in Whatcom County beyond a sobering statistic? At the food bank's board of directors' retreat last September, we committed ourselves to learn more about this pressing issue and to design strategies to help address it. 

To get us started, food bank staff member Max Morange undertook a limited research project using existing data from census tracts and from the school districts to take a snap shot of hunger and poverty in our county. For example, he looked at numbers of households with children aged 0-17 who are living at or below the federal poverty level. Right here in Bellingham there are neighborhoods where 2 out of 5 kids live in poverty and that ultimately means that they're food insecure or downright hungry.

Childhood hunger was the topic of our first "Food for Thought" presentation of 2018 held on January 11 at the food bank. We rolled out some of Max's findings and heard from Claire Lane, Director of Washington's Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition who explained that this is an issue across the state. The coalition's own analysis of hunger trends demonstrated that to end hunger we have to address its root cause: poverty. She and her team work to influence public policy, and I invite you to visit the coalition's website at where you can sign up to receive action alerts and updates.

This year and beyond the food bank will be looking for strategies and partners such as the school districts to fight childhood hunger. At a minimum, we could expand the "Breakfast after the Bell" program in schools through which kids can get the fuel they need for academic success. According to the coalition, Washington currently ranks 45th among states serving breakfast to low-income students. We can and must do better.

- Jamie Donaldson,
President, Bellingham Food Bank Board of Directors
Upcoming Events

March 22- Food For Thought Series:
Youth Hunger-Fighting Heroes

At this very special luncheon, we will hear from students of varying ages about how they take on the fight against hunger at their schools and in their communites.

Lunch provided by
Haggen: Market Street Catering

RSVP by March 19 to | 360.676.0392
Staff Corner
Warehouse Wonder

Matt Cooper has been making sure our warehouse runs smoothly for over 16 years, and his warehouse and distribution experience extends to over 30 years.

In his spare time, he loves to keep his family running smoothly as well, whether that's hiking together, supporting daughter Fiona at cross-country or son Finnigan in his artistic pursuits.

2017 In Numbers

Getting To Know
Home Delivery Programs

 As BFB grows, we are better able to meet the diverse needs of the clients we serve. Currently, over 115 customized boxes of groceries are built, picked up and delivered each week. While there are limits to the expansion of home delivery, we are seeing great results with our first wave of program partners, all of which rely on dedicated teams of volunteers.

Opportunity Council

Volunteer Chore Program: volunteer drivers make deliveries to low-income seniors and adults with disabilities who are living with limited mobility.

Dorothy Place: families who seek refuge from domestic violence at Dorothy Place get weekly food boxes as part of the support services provided to them.

Bellingham School District

GRADS: (Graduation, Reality And Dual-role Skills) provides pregnant teens and young parents under age 21 with weekly food boxes to help them focus on achieving their education goals.

Parkview & Birchwood Elementary Schools: PTA volunteers arrange for food box delivery to the homes of students who counselors have identified as in need of such support.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington

Francis Place: residents of this Permanent Supportive Housing project have experienced chronic homelessness and receive ongoing case management. Food box deliveries add to the services there to support these residents.