For those of us who are lucky enough to have enough to eat regularly, Fall can be the time we are most aware of hunger affecting our neighbors. We see more signs of struggle as the weather gets colder and days get darker, and holiday time brings on community meals and more requests for support. While this is a critical time of year for families in need and the organizations that work to help them, it is a reminder to me that hunger can strike anyone at any time. 

Every time we open our doors, we meet new people who have found themselves in need of food assistance. Many expect to be given their food without choice or to see a lot less variety than we have at our food bank. Folks are pleasantly surprised to see racks and racks of fresh produce as well as seemingly endless bread, milk and eggs for everybody to enjoy. While using a food bank may never feel great, we hope that our shopping model and volunteer presence is a warmer and friendlier version of what some folks imagine. We couldn’t offer this experience without our community of supporters.

We just received a large infusion of support from Industrial Credit Union’s Feed the Need Drive . Their branches, along with Cascade Radio Group and Haggen stores throughout the county promote and collect donations—this year totaling over $138,000—that gets shared among the dozen Whatcom County food banks and pantries we partner with. We rely on this effort as well as the many food and fund drives held by community groups and businesses that come our way all year long. Our food bank’s donations are 85% local, so we truly cannot function at the level we do without you!

Today, I count myself among the lucky ones who live with enough. I’m committed now more than ever to helping others when their lives turn unexpectedly upside down, and I’m proud that our food bank is there for folks year-round to meet them in their time of need. As always, I thank our generous community for trusting us and giving us what we need to grow and adapt to the needs of the families we serve. While we highlight these feelings in the Fall, they’re here every day for our food bank families.

- Mike Cohen ,
Executive Director
Saturday, November 23

9am @ Squalicum Creek Park

5K Fun Run to benefit Bellingham Food Bank

More info at
Welcome to the team Administrative Assistant Sierra Thomas !

Sierra adds her background in social services and program management to our administrative office, responding to whatever walks in the door with a helpful attitude. She is motivated to serve in the fight to end hunger.

In her free time, Sierra enjoys exploring the great PNW with her boyfriend, yoga, cooking and cozying with her cat.

We are so happy to include Sierra on the BFB staff!

This summer, we surveyed our volunteer gleaners about who they are and their experience with our Small Potatoes Gleaning Project . Here are a few things we learned:

• 1 in 4 active gleaners has volunteered with SPGP for four years or more

• 70% of responders also volunteer in other ways in Whatcom County

• 1 in 7 gleaners is also a client of a food bank in Whatcom County

• ...and, most importantly to us, every responder said they feel appreciated for their contributions as a gleaner!

As gleaning season comes to a close for the year, we thank all who came out to help in 2019 and look forward to seeing you in the Spring! 

A huge shout out to Eliza Mae Andrews  for her leadership in coordinating SPGP for the last 3 seasons. We wish her well in her future farming endeavors!

While most people and farms consider our local growing season to be summer and fall, it's actually possible in Northwest Washington to get loacl, farm-fresh produce all year long.  

In the past few years, BFB has developed specific relationships with Whatcom and Skagit farms which specialize in early- and late-season produce so that we can be sure we have healthy vegetables for food bank families every month of the year. While our menu shifts from the leafy greens, green beans, and peppers of summer to winter favorites like squash, carrots, leeks, and beets, clients can be assured that we'll still have amazing produce straight from farms that is often fresher than anything available in a store. 

One of the key partners in this work is the Puget Sound Food Hub which allows lots of different farms to sell their produce via one truck, one delivery, and one invoice. This helps us greatly as it cuts down on the amount of time our staff needs to spend looking for the farms that have winter produce.

This work would never have gotten off the ground were it not for the help of supporters like the Not Yet Foundation and the Sustainable Whatcom Fund of the Whatcom Community Foundation.
While we always have the interest of the families we serve in mind, we don’t always have a focused way to discuss new ideas and programs with them. In order to deepen our relationships with our client families and to better represent their interests, we have formed our inaugural Client Advisory Board.

How We Formed the Board
During the summer, we recruited clients to apply for a position on the advisory board during our downtown distributions. Everyone who wanted to was eligible to apply. The application asked why people were interested in sharing their stories and asked questions about their demographic background to lead us to a diverse group. 

Who’s On Board
We have invited 12 people to meet monthly for one hour for one year. Among them are single parents, people of color, those without housing, people with disabilities, working people, students, and caregivers. In addition to these client representatives, our director and operations staff will be in each meeting. We also are working with a professional facilitator in order to best honor everyone’s time.

What Will the Board Do
Our staff will work with our facilitator to create an agenda for each meeting, designed at provoking open discussion around the services we offer and other areas affecting our clients’ lives. New ideas will be discussed among the group, as well as longstanding practices. Discussions in each meeting will help to shape the direction of our food bank, and will also help to shape the topics for future meetings.