Hello and I really hope you are having a great summer!

Things here at Bellingham Food Bank are feeling really positive, especially compared to a year ago. Last year at this time we were truly exhausted as we were still pretty new to food banking during COVID-19, and our air quality was dangerous due to wildfire smoke. Although COVID-19 is still with us and wildfires are again devastating many parts of the West, things locally feel so good.

The start of the summer has been very busy with a lot of really positive activities. In early July, we began managing almost all aspects of the home delivery program, after starting with an amazing partnership with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County. Each Friday dozens of routes are created and dispatched from our Ellis Street location, delivering hundreds of food bank boxes to folks who cannot make it to our food bank distributions. 

On July 12 we reopened to in-person shopping at Ellis Street! It’s so great to see shoppers again and watch them select the food they want, need and deserve. I have really missed being able to offer food in this dignified manner.

In addition to changes at Ellis Street, we are bringing food bank services to four farmworker camps, two permanent farmworker housing sites in Whatcom County and Harmony Elementary School, all in an effort to improve food access to historically underserved groups of people. More on that below.

All of these efforts are even more remarkable given where we were just months ago. I am so proud of our staff, volunteers, partners and supporters. Times still remain challenging and the future is uncertain, but our food bank remains incredibly well supported and our commitment to helping hungry folks is stronger than ever. Thanks so much for your interest and support, and please spread the word about all the ways to get great food at our food bank!

-Mike Cohen,
Executive Director
July 12 marked an exciting transition for our food bank: we have returned to offering 3 great ways to get great food, and we hope that community members will find one or more options that fit their needs.

SHOP Monday, Wednesday & Friday | 10am - 6pm

Our main location at 1824 Ellis Street is now open for in-person shopping three times per week. The “shopping” is still free of charge and reflects our set up being like a modest sized grocery store. We continue to offer items sourced from donations by grocery stores and community members but are now purchasing foods more consistently, so shoppers will find many more uniform offerings at each visit. We keep many categories stocked from open to close, including fresh eggs; fresh milk (as well as a shelf-stable nondairy alternative); frozen proteins; tofu; dairy items like butter, cheese and yogurt; a variety of breads and bakery items; canned goods; menstrual products; baby food, formula and diapers; toilet paper and more than a dozen fresh fruit and vegetable selections.

While shopping isn’t new to our food bank, its return comes with vast improvements. Before reopening, we removed interior walls to create about 25 percent more shopping space. It’s already become hard to believe that we operated in the smaller space up until now! The opening lets in bright light, keeps displays spaced apart and allows for shoppers to move through the space in a flow that reduces the need to cross paths with others. We also are open twice as many hours each week, which has so far meant very little wait time to check in. Lines haven’t been long like they used to be (and we hope never again), but should they get there, we plan to limit the number of shoppers in the space to keep the experience uncongested. There are fewer staff and volunteers in dedicated spots on the floor, instead moving about and restocking items all throughout the day.

The most significant change is our new motto: Please take only what you need. We have removed household limits on nearly every item, now only suggesting a limit on items that won’t be evenly distributed without them. This means shoppers decide what “need” looks like to their household during that visit instead of having to fit one of three household categories that never change. We are now better recognizing the dynamic and varying needs of folks who visit our food bank and strive to improve our offerings to create as low barrier an experience as possible.
PICK UP Tuesday | 3-6pm
Christ the King Community Church Parking Lot | 4173 Meridian St

From March 2020 until now, we have offered prepacked food boxes as a safe alternative to in-person shopping at drive-through locations throughout Bellingham. Our most visited drive-through distribution by far has been with our longstanding partners at CTK. We are continuing this drive through offering of prepacked food boxes as a way to distribute food to those who are not comfortable shopping in person yet, or who may be better served by this option regardless of COVID-19. While folks are not selecting their food outright, the same categories of foods are prepacked as are available in our shopping model, and there are often bonus items available to take.
HOME DELIVERY Friday | 9am - 3pm

The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County has allowed us to reach folks with home delivered food boxes for years, but now we are managing this program in house! Our hope is that folks who cannot access our shop or pick up options will be served by the expansion of home deliveries. We have taken the last few weeks to learn from our predecessors what works well and what stands to improve. We will continue to work on creating efficient driving routes for volunteers, expanding awareness of this free service, and providing food boxes full of desired items as we continue to take ownership of the home delivery program. 

Those interested in applying to receive home deliveries may visit or call 360-676-0392 extension 4 to be assisted with signing up.

Those interested in volunteering to deliver food boxes may visit to apply.
Foothills Food Bank Satellite at Harmony Elementary Now Open!
Bellingham Food Bank, Foothills Food Bank, and the Mount Baker School District have partnered to address food security in an underserved part of eastern Whatcom County by creating a new, year-round Foothills Satellite Food Bank at Harmony Elementary School on Mondays from 4-5pm.
Seasonal Distributions
In 2020, BFB was thrilled to be a partner in launching Viviendo Bien, a multi-sector effort to empower a nutritional culture shift among farmworker families. This year, that effort has expanded to include new seasonal farmworker satellite food banks and deeper partnership with the Agape Service Project, Sea Mar Promotores and other groups which have been trusted and valued supporters of the farmworker community for decades. Separately, we are excited to provide funding support to the Sea Mar Food FARMacia, an innovative free produce program for Sea Mar patients that grew out of our Whatcom Veggie Rx pilot project. Healthy food can be medicine! 
Summer Harvests
While BFB's Small Potatoes Gleaning Project continues to fill our distributions with amazing produce donated from local farms, our produce purchasing program has more than doubled in 2021 with particular focus on supporting BIPOC farmers and providing guaranteed markets for items that are culturally relevant to farmworker populations.  
Help Feed the Need in our community through Industrial Credit Union’s annual food drive!
Industrial will be accepting monetary donations in support of Whatcom County Food Banks at all branch locations and online September 20th through October 1st.