Bellingham Food Bank Newsletter
   Spring 2014
In This Issue
In their own words

What kind of produce do you most enjoy getting at the food bank?
"All the locally-grown produce, especially the great variety of greens."

"The sugar snap pea and tomato starts we got to plant in our garden."

"Fresh local berries.They're great in my kids' smoothies!"

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Eric Radder
Compassionate Caregiver, Cancer Survivor




Eric is a life-long Bellinghamster and the second youngest of nine kids. He was also the second-to-last child born at the old North Bellingham Hospital before it closed. (His twin sister Sam was technically the last child born at the now defunct institution.) Growing up Eric and his siblings witnessed how hard it was for their mother to keep things going after their parents' divorce. As a single parent, she worked three jobs while also putting herself through college.


For 27 years Eric was employed at St. Joseph's Hospital, starting as an RN and eventually being promoted to nursing supervisor. With a twinkle in his eye, he says he was "pretty good at bossing folks around" while looking after his fellow nurses. Unfortunately, for most of his career, Eric was also living with cancer. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 22, Eric's gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. He's been in and out of remission so many times doctors are amazed and have written about his case in a medical journal.


Although he's a cancer survivor, eight years ago Eric was forced to go on disability. He downsized from a house to an apartment and sold his car. Three years ago he began coming to our food bank. Eric thinks the food here is "freaking amazing." He appreciates the fresh fruit, vegetables and the meat and other proteins. "I really like to cook, so it's wonderful to get such good stuff."


Eric also still likes to take care of others. Last November he turned the turkey and other food he received here into a Thanksgiving meal for his elderly neighbors who were on their own for the holiday. He says "I don't feel badly about having to come here because I need the food, and I've never looked down on others who use the food bank." 


Bellingham Food Bank

Bellingham Food Bank
TTY 711 or 800-833-6388
1824 Ellis Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Food For Thought

I've been working at Bellingham Food Bank for nearly ten years, and a lot has changed in my life in that time. I'm decidedly middle aged. My wife and I purchased our own home, my father passed away, friends have married, and friends have divorced. By far the biggest change for me has been becoming a father.


As many of you may know, it's hard to see the world through the eyes of a parent until you are a parent. Ten years ago I cared deeply about hungry people. I still believe hunger is unacceptable. However, hungry kids have an even greater impact on me, heart and soul, now that I'm a dad.


Studies show that one in four kids in our community is food insecure. That means that their parents, grandparents or other caregivers struggle to provide enough food for them on a regular basis. How did we get to this place where 25% of our children are hungry?


My daughter Piper is in kindergarten. I know some of her classmates' families struggle with hunger. I see what some have packed in their lunches. I see them gobble up snacks during play dates at our house. I also know that some of these kids' parents are skipping meals so their children can eat.


Our food bank does a lot of good things to address childhood hunger. We provide lots of baby food and formula, fresh milk, eggs, and other protein items. Our agricultural programs provide thousands of pounds of nutritious produce each year. But, it's clearly not enough.


Recently there have been some great discussions among people from local school districts, foundations, Food Lifeline and other anti-hunger organizations about finding the most effective and innovative ways to alleviate childhood hunger. I'm fully energized and committed to keeping our food bank at the table, and I'll keep you informed on future developments and how you can help.


Working on solutions for ending childhood hunger is not only my job. It's my responsibility as a parent and a community member. Because none of our kids should go hungry.


Mike Cohen
Executive Director

Jamie K Donaldson
A Deep Commitment to Community



On many Fridays you'll likely find Jamie standing on the corner of Cornwall and Magnolia downtown with other participants of the Bellingham peace vigil. Jamie is passionate about social justice and community development. So much so that she was a catalyst in the founding of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center and served as its director from 2002-2005.


Jamie was initially encouraged to volunteer at Bellingham Food Bank (BFB) in 2000 by longtime friend Alan Rhodes, and she worked sorting canned and dry goods. Jamie left to care for her parents in Spokane for several years and then lived in Canada for a time. When she returned to Bellingham last fall, Alan encouraged her to volunteer again at BFB. Jamie now serves as a member of the board of directors. She says she's excited to be back supporting the food bank by working on the board and by also being a donor.


In addition to getting a wonderful variety of food into the hands of people who need it, she says she really appreciates that her dollars help BFB support local farmers through the Food Bank Fresh and other agricultural programs. She adds that she also appreciates how our organization fosters compassion and community connections. Jamie says the one thing she'd like more people to become aware of is Bellingham Food Bank's larger role as the main hub/distribution center for all hunger-relief organizations in our area.


Jamie currently co-manages the adult education professional certificate program in Aboriginal Health and Community Administration at the University of British Columbia. She loves to dance and enjoys many kinds of music including Latin, blues, opera and jazz. She also finds joy in being an amateur yet ardent bird watcher.


Welcome back to Bellingham and to our food bank Jamie! We very much appreciate your support and your commitment to serving our community.


Benferd Rollins
Encouraging Kindness



Heroes aren't always flashy or larger than life. Some are more like Maya Angelou's kind of hero: "I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people." That's Benferd Rollins. A quiet and laid-back kind of guy, it's his kind and grounded presence that shines through. 


Benferd believes stability and kindness are key ingredients to happiness in life. He grew up in Spokane living with his parents, grandmother, and three sisters. He credits his parents for being calm and steady influences for him and his family. Benferd's younger sister Maggie was born with Down syndrome, and observing cruel behavior directed at Maggie by others had a profound impact on Benferd. It strengthened his resolve to protect others, and it also helped him grow into a person who encourages and embodies kindness.


Benferd is also a person with eclectic interests. He began his studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia with a concentration in puppetry and storytelling. He later transferred to Western Washington University and received a degree in chemistry.


While he was a student at WWU, Benferd visited the food bank as a client. Now he volunteers in our prep room, carefully sorting the produce. Benferd works with a quiet focus yet he can also be an engaging conversationalist given his wide-ranging interests. When not at the food bank or cooking at Giuseppe's restaurant, Benferd enjoys music. He sings and plays guitar, but also shyly admits to knowing how to play the violin, dulcimer, mandolin and other instruments.


Benferd says he really enjoys the atmosphere of acceptance at the food bank and appreciates the diversity of experiences and opinions he encounters. Thank you Benferd for all you contribute and for helping to make this a better place for all of us.





Plan to grow extra food in your garden and be a Victory Gardener.

Find more info at 


Rescue local produce as a Small Potatoes Gleaning Project volunteer.


Host a Milk Money fundraiser! For more information visit our Milk Money page at






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