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

What do you like about the new distribution area?
"How easy it is to get in and move around."

"It's full of great stuff--there's so much to choose from."

"I love the new produce section, and all the salad greens this time of year!


Richard D
Keeping the Beat




"Finer than a frog's hair split four ways on a sunny Sunday afternoon." This is just one of the interesting phrases you're likely to hear from Richard. He's fun and easy to talk with. And he's easy to spot at the food bank, as he's typically clad in a Western-style shirt, jeans with a large rodeo belt buckle, and an impressive cowboy hat.


Richard was born in Pasco, Washington and speaks fondly of his youth. "There isn't enough time for me to talk about all of the blessings I had as a child. We weren't rich, but we never needed things we didn't have." When Richard was about twelve, his family moved to Bellingham. It was a big switch moving to the west side of the state, but eventually Richard found his calling. "Music kept me in school; without band, I probably never would have graduated." He remains an avid percussionist and plays regularly with the Bellingham High School Alumni Band.


After high school Richard worked quite a few jobs including a stint in the Navy, as a processor at Bellingham Frozen Foods, and as a retail clerk. His favorite jobs though were as a range officer at a shooting range and as a flagger. "I just loved talking to people as they sat in traffic; I always tried to get a smile out of them."


Richard recently starting coming to our food bank when he could no longer work and began living on disability payments. He says he's really impressed with the great selection and quality of the food, particularly the vegetables. "I shop here first and then fill in what I need at the grocery store."


Richard wants us to pass on his gratitude to all of Bellingham Food Bank's supporters. "This place is slicker than a fresh calf, and I'd be happy to shake the hand of every donor, I'm that thankful."  

Bellingham Food Bank
TTY 711 or 800-833-6388

1824 Ellis Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

 Mike and volunteer James Everidge celebrating the new dairy cases

Food For Thought

I recently spent a weekend at a bachelor party in Oregon. I didn't know too many of the other attendees, but we eventually learned about each others' hobbies, families, and jobs. When they heard about my job, many commented on how good it must feel to being do work that matters so much.

The drive home allowed for a lot of reflection. It had been some time since I thought about how lucky we are to work at the food bank. My new friends were right. I do feel really good about working here, and I'm not sure I've ever felt better about it than right now.

We just completed a significant expansion. The construction project wrapped up at the end of June, and we are already experiencing the positive impacts of our expanded space. We recently made some BIG purchases of inexpensive eggs, chicken, and ham for the network of food banks we partner with in Whatcom County. This means more good food for all food bank families. And this was only possible because we now have the added warehouse and refrigerated space to receive and store such large quantities of food.

But, the change that's making the most difference is in our distribution room. Because of the increased space, we were able to switch this area to resemble a small market or grocery store. Customers now use shopping carts and can select their groceries from a number of different sections. We've added reach-in coolers, produce display tables, and opened up the floor space so they can move more easily throughout the food bank.

This new system is also much faster. People don't have to wait nearly as long to get in and select their food. More important than its efficiency is how it makes people feel. I've asked dozens of folks what they think of our new shopping system. "It feels so much more humane" is the most common response I get.

This is exactly the type of improvement we seek at our food bank. I couldn't be happier. Or more grateful for the community partners, donors, staff and volunteers who made this possible. 

Mike Cohen
Executive Director

Hannah Hansard
A Homegrown Commitment to Caring


Hannah is often described by her volunteer coworkers as "a classy old soul, genuine and kind." And to many of us here, she feels like family.

Hannah says she grew up very poor in rural Arkansas with her two brothers, parents and grandparents. Despite being poor, her large family was never hungry; her grandmother "Nana" made certain of that. They raised a huge garden and "put up" (canned) all sorts of food.

Both of Hannah's parents went to college when she was young, and Nana was very involved in raising her. Then at age 16 Hannah experienced some pretty big culture shock when she and her folks moved to Connecticut. Connecticut offered diversity and new foods, and she eventually met her boyfriend Grayson, who later became her husband.

In 2011, thanks to Craigslist, a sense of adventure and a job offer from Faithlife, Grayson and Hannah set off for Bellingham. Hannah believes deeply in being involved in her community. And not long after settling in her new home, she began donating to Bellingham Food Bank and then started volunteering with us.

"I couldn't believe all the wonderful food we were giving out," Hannah says when asked about her first impressions. She also enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers and the food bank families. She made new friends who helped keep the loneliness of being in a new town at bay.

Adventure 2.0 is on the horizon for Hannah and Grayson. They are expecting their first child and are moving to Vermont in August. She says she wants to find some property where she and her family can once again grow their own food--like tomatoes, cukes and okra, and "perhaps even black-eyed peas!"
We are grateful for all of Hannah's support. And her BFB family is really going to miss her. But Bellingham's loss is Vermont's gain. Her Nana helped raise a resilient and compassionate woman who will embrace and enhance whatever place she calls home.

Photo courtesy of Diane Padys Photography

Michael Deitering & Chubby Bunny Farm
The Art of Experiential Agriculture


As a farmer, it's not surprising that Michael's been on the go since early February working 80-plus hours a week. His life is a non-stop whir of activity.


Michael's work on his farm in Everson includes filling orders placed through the Puget Sound Food Hub, where individuals and businesses can order his produce. He also grows salad mix for Maple Alley Inn's meal program as part of Sustainable Connections' Food to Bank On program, and he has a booth at the Ferndale Farmers Market.


Additionally Michael contracts with Bellingham Food Bank as one of our Seed Money farmers, growing specific crops for our food bank families. And he routinely donates produce from his farm to BFB, as well as somehow manages to squeeze in time to volunteer here weekly.


What's really surprising is just under two years ago Michael knew nothing about agriculture.


Michael grew up in Ohio and received a degree in logistics and procurement with a minor in Asian studies. After college he came to the Tri Cities area in Washington to work in contract administration on a federal project. Eventually, he moved to Bellingham and volunteered for NSEA and Whatcom Land Trust. It was only then, after some soul-searching, Michael decided he wanted to farm.


In January 2014 he joined Cloud Mountain Farm Center's farming internship program and a little later began growing on a quarter-acre plot, raising produce and rabbit meat. After his internship, Michael stayed on with Cloud Mountain's incubator farm program, where he leases a two-acre plot. There he grows salad greens, cherry tomatoes, garlic and other specialty crops.


Michael's passions in life are growing things, fostering community and fried chicken. And his favorite pastimes, when he can find the time, are hiking, running and studying Chinese. Having spent a year in China as an exchange student, he says he would like to return there someday to teach organic farming methods.


For more info, check out Chubby Bunny Farm on Facebook  or the farm's profile at 




Grow extra food in your garden and be a Victory Gardener

We even want your zucchini! Tell me more.


Rescue local produce as a Small Potatoes Gleaning Project volunteer

Yay, fresh food and less waste.


Host a Milk Money fundraiser

Help ensure there's enough milk for every family.


Or email us at for more information.