I feel slightly superstitious for even suggesting this, but it is nice to begin thinking that there may be light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel. We must continue to be safe and vigilant, but vaccine availability and scores of people getting vaccinated make me believe and hope that the worst may be behind us as a community.

I want to take a moment to highlight and publicly thank our staff, volunteers and Board of Directors for their incredible work and tenacity for the past year plus. Our staff responded so quickly more than a year ago when COVID became very real in Whatcom County. Some worked from home, some never left the food bank and some left and returned. We all grew as a team and established safe protocols and procedures to make sure people still had access to food. 

Initially, most of our volunteer shifts had to stop, but soon we created new volunteer activities that resulted in pre-packing about 4,000 boxes of food each week. Staff and volunteers worked to safely distribute those boxes from a variety of locations surrounding Bellingham. These distributions were all outside which meant some very tough weather days that included wind, smoke and snow.

Throughout the pandemic, our Board of Directors provided fantastic leadership, encouragement and kept the organization on the correct path. The Board’s belief in our staff, volunteers and community support never wavered and allowed us to remain confident and energized when it would have been easy to be scared.

Though COVID-19 has been a crisis and is by no means over, it has revealed just how strong our team and support is at the Bellingham Food Bank. We have grown stronger as a team and have renewed hope and great plans for future hunger relief activities. When it is safe, we will eagerly welcome customers to shop for food at Bellingham Food Bank distributions. We are working on some great plans to make the shopping experience for food insecure people even more dignified. I hope that day comes soon.

-Mike Cohen,
Executive Director
The 2021 Small Potatoes Gleaning Project’s season is now underway! SPGP works all over Whatcom County to help save fresh produce that might otherwise go to waste at farms, home orchards, backyards and even the Bellingham Farmers Market. This age old practice helps provide people experiencing hunger in Whatcom County access to local and healthy fruits and vegetables. 

We are seeking volunteers that are passionate about saving produce and getting their hands in the dirt! This work is fun and rewarding and takes you to beautiful sites. It can be physically demanding and includes lots of stooping, bending and lifting heavier objects. Just as all other programs at BFB, we are still closely following the local and CDC guidelines for proper COVID-19 protocols. This means wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others and staying home if you feel sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19. 

The growing season has begun, but a majority of the work happens in June through September. To get involved, sign up for gleaning announcements or check periodically on our website:

We’re excited to have you out! 
Michael Vieyra from Sea Mar Community Health Centers answered our questions about their Food FARMacia program:

What is FARMacia? 

The Food FARMacia is a food distribution program hosted by Sea Mar Community Health Centers through the health education program. The program distributes whole foods to patients living with chronic conditions. With the Bellingham Food Bank’s financial assistance, the Food FARMacia orders fresh, organic, nutritious produce from a local network of partners brought together by the Puget Sound Food Hub. This program aims to increase food accessibility and help patients better their health while also providing basic nutrition and health education services.

What inspired the program’s beginnings? 

The Food FARMacia is a result of a three-year partnership between Sea Mar Community Health Centers and AmeriCorps VISTA. During its first year, Claire Millburn, the Year 1 VISTA, was inspired by a similar program run by the Lummi Tribal Health Clinic. From this, she began to connect with local members of the community in order to figure out how they could work together in order to reach Sea Mar’s patient population.

What have you learned as a result of this program? 

After the first year of this program, we have learned that much of the vulnerable population in Whatcom County is continuing to struggle with food insecurity. Even with the combined efforts of community organizations, there are still individuals the collective is unable to reach. We continue to listen to our patients and explore the ways in which we can attain the foods they desire. This program allows patients to work on their own health and wellness; however, it also affects the health and wellness of their families as they begin to incorporate new vegetables into their diets. There is no singular approach to eradicating hunger, but we hope to continue learning about the barriers our patients face and finding ways to assist them.

What are your goals for the program moving forward? 

Our goal for the future of the program is to continue helping patients. We have been able to grow steadily and build partnerships to last for all of 2021. As the end of the year approaches, we hope to be able to attain additional grant funding, secure partners, and ensure sustainability of the program in 2022 and the years to come. 

How can readers support your work? 

Readers can support Sea Mar’s Food FARMacia by volunteering to help run our program. We are trying to build our pool of volunteers, which is low at this time. We take all COVID-19 precautions and ask for a weekly commitment of 4 hours. Email for more details.

Photos courtesy of Sea Mar Communications Department
2021 Conquering Covid Climbing Challenge (C4)

Join local cycle enthusiasts in challenging yourself to gain elevation on your ride/run/other activity May 22-31. Visit to learn more and participate.

DART at Fred Meyer Lakeway

Support emergency airlift training while getting food to those in need. Donate nonperishables at the Fred Meyer Lakeway Customer Service Desk through June 10 to participate. 

Hunger vs Hunger

On July 17, Ethan Hunger will burn 10,000 calories in hopes to raise $10,000. The Jerry H. Walton Foundation will match every dollar donated up to $10,000—this means Ethan’s effort will go twice as far! To give, visit:

Check out Ethan's video here!
Our gardens are growing and soon will yield more and more fruits and vegetables. If you have extra produce that you would like to donate, please consider the following Victory Garden Guidelines:

1. Donate Monday-Wednesdays, 10am-4pm to our warehouse receiving door.

2. Please place small loose items (green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, berries, etc) in 1 to 2 pound bags or clamshell containers.

3. Donate clean produce of quality that you would be happy to eat yourself. Please no groundfall fruit.

4. Size matters! Our food boxes restrict any individual item to less than 10 inches in length, and individual summer squash should weigh 1 pound or less.

Thanks for growing and giving!
We recently started assessing our vendors through an equity lens that aims to prioritize our purchases to companies that support BIPOC communities, local initiatives or are environmentally sustainable. We had been buying menstrual products from a company that contracts with US prisons, and applying our equity lens showed us that we could make a more equitable choice with our dollars by changing vendors. We have selected as our new vendor The Organic Project (TOP)—a woman-owned organization that produces a 100% organic cotton product with no chemicals or dyes. For every purchase of their products, they give products back to schools, shelters and nonprofits that are dedicated to helping women and girls. We believe this important human health need deserves a high-quality product from a company that also strives to provide dignity and respect for all!