Bellingham Food Bank Newsletter
   Winter 2015
In This Issue
In their own words

What does the food bank mean to you?
"It means my kids will have fresh milk and eggs this week."
"My husband and I don't have to choose between eating and buying our meds."

"My daughter will have enough baby food until my next paycheck."


The Elements of Change



Minnesota, Ukraine, Brazil, California, and Blaine are all places where John has spent time. This calm, intelligent, and kind man has led an interesting life and seen a great deal. He is also a regular at our food bank.


John graduated from the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology with a degree in astrophysics. After doing graduate work at the University of Washington, he moved to California to work for Lockheed Missiles and Space. John spent his days controlling orbiting space satellites from his office. Eventually, he moved to Seattle and began working for Boeing. He continued to work with satellites, focusing on rockets that brought satellites from low orbits to higher orbits. However, when Boeing directed him to work on nuclear weapons, he declined. He said he firmly believed the world had enough nuclear weapons. So John decided to find a new career.


He started his own computer company, working with small businesses to keep their networks operating smoothly. And he enjoyed traveling to distant places for his work. All in all things were going well until John developed severe health issues. He began feeling dizzy and fatigued, and he had trouble concentrating. Eventually he was diagnosed with cardio-myopathy. This condition forced John to retire prematurely.


John and his wife are now in their sixties and live in a mobile home park. Most of their limited income goes for the mortgage. John decided to come to our food bank in 2010, and he admits his initial expectations of food bank food were pretty low. However, he says that he is really satisfied with the groceries he gets at BFB. He especially appreciates the fruits and vegetables.


"The food bank allows us to eat well, rather than helping us to just get by on bad food." We are glad that we are here for John and others in our community, and that we exceed their expectations. 



Bellingham Food Bank

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

Food For Thought
Mike Cohen
Executive Director

My little family recently got a bit bigger. We adopted two puppies. We meant to adopt just one, but sometimes things don't go as planned. When we showed up to pick out our new dog, her sister was also in the kennel. Our seven-year-old daughter exclaimed, "We can't only get one!" This experience has confirmed two things for me: doing the right thing isn't always easy, and change can be challenging.

2015 is going to be a big year at our food bank. By summer, we will have completed our expansion and will have added 10,000 square feet of space to our existing facility. This project has given us an opportunity to look at almost all aspects of our organization and ask ourselves "How can we be better?" We've done a lot of research. We've traveled to other food banks in Western Washington, looking at their operations and collecting ideas.

The truth is we don't really need to do anything radically different. We are one of the busiest food banks in the state and provide more food to hungry families than most. Our innovative programs are well respected. We have a broad base of community support for our mission. However, our success is contingent on always seeking improvement, with the goal of providing the best services possible.

The changes we are considering are exciting. While nothing's definite yet, here's a sneak peek at a few of them. We may expand our current distribution hours and be open on different days of the week, possibly Saturdays. And we may alter our distribution area so it resembles and feels like a small grocery store. I'm sure we'll also be considering other ideas we haven't even thought of yet.

Our food bank continues to evolve and grow. And while change isn't always easy, it's often rewarding. We're excited about our expanded facility and the possibilities for improving our services. I just hope this process is a little easier than training puppies.


Susan Korn
A Caring and Indomitable Spirit

Susan has been a dedicated supporter of Bellingham Food Bank. For nearly a decade, she and her husband Richard sent a monthly check with a kind note attached.


Growing up Susan lived in several places due to her father's job. As a young adult, she eventually landed in Los Angeles and began working for a property development company. And it was in LA that she met Richard. She said she was attracted by his sense of humor, and they soon began dating. They were married three years later.


By the mid-1990s the Korns found themselves in the Northwest. Susan's step-mother needed in-home care, but they didn't want to live in the crowded city of Seattle. So, they drove north searching for a place they liked, not stopping until they found Bellingham.


Susan is quiet and petite. But don't let appearances fool you. She is also tough; the past year is proof. Richard became ill and passed away on January 5th, 2014. And on January 17th of last year, on her birthday, Susan was injured in a fall and ended up in a rehabilitation facility for several weeks.


When many might have given up, Susan decided to fight. And by October, she had regained her health and was on a plane bound for Costa Rica. On that trip she experienced many thrills, including being awakened by howler monkeys, riding zip lines, and having newly-hatched turtles dart across her feet as they made their way to the sea.


Although her life changed significantly in 2014, Susan's dedication to helping others remains constant. She continues to donate and also volunteers here once a week because, "Food is a basic need, even more than shelter." She also gives because when Richard was young, he and his family had to rely on public assistance. He knew what it felt like to need help.


Susan says she's happy to begin a new year and be of service. We are inspired by Susan's caring and indomitable spirit and are grateful for all of her and Richard's support.




Carole and Bill Gainor
All Aboard for Adventure


When you think of the 70s TV show Love Boat, what comes to mind? Do you hear the theme song in your head? Or do you think of the super-friendly cruise director Julie, making all feel welcome and comfortable, especially during challenging situations?


At BFB, we think of Carole and Bill Gainor. Partly because of their caring and energetic personalities, and how they work to make our food bank a welcoming and fun place. But we also think of the Gainors because they met in the 70s while working on the actual cruise ship the Love Boat. Carole was the first social director/"Julie" on Princess Cruise Lines, and she not only worked with the cruise passengers, but also assisted TV production crews when they were filming onboard the ship.


Carole grew up in New York and graduated from SUNY with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. Bill grew up on the west coast and graduated from UC Davis. Work brought Carole to California, where she met Bill. After they were married, the Gainors settled in Los Angeles and began raising a family. Several of their neighbors worked in the film industry. While Carole was walking with her two-year old son Mac, a producer stopped her and exclaimed "I'm looking for a kid just like this for my next commercial." Mac was featured in his ad, and soon their other children Kimball and Casey were also featured in commercials.


Once their children grew older, the Gainors sought out a smaller community. In 2000 they made Bellingham their new home. It was when her kids began attending Bellingham High that Carole noticed the long lines at our food bank. She decided to come by and see how she could help.


The Gainors have been volunteering with us for the past five years. Carole sorts and stocks bread and other baked goods. And Bill currently stocks produce and assists during distributions. They say they really enjoy volunteering with "such a convergence of good folks." Beloved by all of us at the food bank--clients, volunteers, and staff alike--we're delighted that this dynamic couple joined our crew.  



In 2014 Together We:

  • Provided service for nearly 140,000 client visits
  • Distributed over 3.3 million lbs. of food to Bellingham's hungry
  • Partnered with local farmers to grow more than 44,000 lbs. of nutritious produce for food bank families
  • Gleaned 142,000 lbs. of fresh food for Whatcom County families
  • Built 25 raised-bed vegetable gardens for low-income families
  • Grew 62,000 lbs. of produce via our Victory Gardens program