Recently, I was lucky to spend some time sitting on the beautiful Nooksack river with my family. My daughter is 11 and the simple joy of watching her play with friends in nature made me happy and brought back a lot of memories of my own childhood summers. She is at the age when my family moved from Long Island, New York to the rivers, woods, and lakes of New Hampshire. Right now I’m treasuring these “traditional” summer moments—perhaps because we are so busy doing inspiring work in the summers at the food bank.

Many equate summers with vacation. However, this summer may be our food bank’s busiest time in its history. For food bank families, summer is a time when need grows. Kids are out of school and not receiving free meals, and many working parents aren’t able to be with their children during the day to replace those meals. Gratefully as these needs grow, so does a lot of local produce. In this issue, you’ll read about some of the ways our dedicated team maximizes our ability to get fresh, local food to families—this summer and beyond. I wish it was true that hunger is seasonal, but we know that the families we serve are experiencing hunger year-round.

This is largely due to 40% of all wage earners in the US making $15 per hour or less, a startling figure I recently read. With so many working people making such a low wage, the number of families needing help with food purchases shouldn’t be a surprise. I am proud of our efforts be they new or old, and very proud of the generous support we receive. Our Bellingham Food Bank team of staff, volunteers, and community supporters makes me confident that we can keep adding new, critical programs to our existing set of hunger-relief activities. Thank you for increasing our reach with your support!

- Mike Cohen ,
Executive Director
Thursday, September 19 | 5-6:30 pm

Food For Thought: Hunger & Healthcare
@Bellingham Food Bank

As we increase our research into the 
root causes of hunger, we are learning about other health issues that intersect with food insecurity that many of our client families are facing.

Join healthcare professionals from our partner agencies to hear about our Veggie Rx program, behavioral health, low-income health disparities and more.

Catering by Haggen Market Street Catering

RSVP to | 360.676.0392

Saturday, September 28 | 11am-3pm

Industrial Credit Union’s 7th Annual Food Truck Round Up @ Barkley Village Green

This event, benefiting Whatcom County food banks, features over 20 food trucks, beer, wine & cider, live music by local bands Polecat and The Walrus, a family area, and a lot of fun for a great cause! 

or for updates and additional details.
Our board and staff are exploring the root causes of food insecurity in the US. Inequities around access to food are pervasive, systematic, and are profoundly connected to race and racism. People of color are disproportionately low-income, in poorer health, and hungry as compared to their white counterparts. To disrupt racism, we are pursuing opportunities to direct hunger relief activities to communities of color and indigenous people. This in no way takes away from our core services, to which All Are Welcome. We are very excited about this work and are beginning this summer by building partnerships that will get more food to marginalized farm workers living in Whatcom County:

The Agape Service Project provides service opportunities to support farmworkers for Catholic organizations in Western Washington. We warehouse and provide eggs, diapers, and produce for a weekly farmworker food bank held in Lynden during the peak berry season. This project serves about 200 families per week, making it one of the busiest food banks in Whatcom County! Thanks to our Small Potatoes Gleaning Project , carrots and cilantro are harvested less than 24 hours before distribution.

The Promotores Program at Sea Mar’s Migratory and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program holds mobile medical and dental clinics with a health fair component at different farmworker camps throughout the summer. Farmworkers are provided with dental, medical services, oral and general health education and screenings, along with behavioral health information. Attendance ranges from 30 to 250 households. Sea Mar’s local community partners also attend to provide additional resources. BFB has been providing produce to this program for 5 years and we are organizing more each year to improve the range of products we bring to each distribution. Thanks to the support of the Community Food Co-op’s Farm Fund , we are able to purchase peppers and tomatoes from Mariposa Farm for delivery directly to these camps in the latter part of the summer.

Catholic Housing Services and Mercy Housing have permanent housing sites in Bellingham for about 100 farmworker families, all of which fall below 185% of the federal poverty line. BFB doesn’t see many residents of these sites at our distributions, and a home delivery project this summer is aimed at learning how we can better serve this population. We are glad to join Bellingham Public Schools , Christ the King’s Food Share and Farm and the YMCA to make this great event a success.

Summer Meals at a local berry farm are serving 65-100 children lunch each day throughout July. BFB played a role in connecting the Lynden School District , Northwest Educational Service District Migrant Education Program and Agape Service Project to provide services and food to kids at this seasonal housing site for the bulk of the harvest season. 

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Summer time in the Pacific Northwest means beautiful, bountiful harvests in our home gardens, farms and orchards. When there’s too much for growers to eat or sell themselves, they call our Small Potatoes Gleaning Project (SPGP) to come harvest so that hungry local families may eat it! SPGP continues to go strong, collecting over 100,000 pounds of produce last season. Here’s some of what we’re focused on in the 2019 season:

Farmers Markets
Bellingham Farmers Market is a nonprofit organization that brings together many county market farms to sell their produce. Those farms always hope to sell through what they bring to market, but when they have excess, SPGP is there to collect it. This saves the vendor from having to repack their truck and haul potential waste back to their farm and feeds food bank client families instead! The market sites this year are downtown Bellingham on Saturdays and Barkley Village on Wednesdays. 

Tending Our Own Crops
Long-standing farm partners Boxx Berry Farm and Flynn Farms lend Bellingham Food Bank rows in their growing operation in order for us to select, sow, tend and harvest our own variety of crops. Gleaning Coordinator Eliza Mae Andrews takes care of these rows until harvest time when volunteers join her for gleaning parties. The beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, winter squash, green onions, arugula, box choi (...and more!) account for a substantial and reliable portion of SPGP’s total collection each season, making these partner sites immeasurably important!

We LOVE Our Volunteers & Farmers!
All of the nutritious produce that is harvested through SPGP would never make it to families if it weren’t for our farming partners and hard-working volunteers. Community members are carving out hours for thoughtful picking, careful washing, and heavy lifting in order to see good crops find their way to those in need. We are so grateful to our growing community for sharing their bounty with us to best fulfill our mission.