It only takes spending a day in Bellingham to see why so many people want to live in this friendly college town. The people are gracious, the air is crisp, and the views of Puget Sound are breathtaking. But what you don’t see are the many families struggling with hunger.
“We feed nearly 1,400 families here every week,” says Bellingham Food Bank’s Executive Director, Mike Cohen.
The Bellingham Food Bank has been operating for 45 years, providing food to individuals and families who find themselves in need in an area where food insecurity rates reach as high as 15 percent.
The Bellingham Food Bank has been partnering with Food Lifeline since 2004, and in 2013, the nonprofit became Food Lifeline’s first redistribution organization. Every Monday, a semi-truck leaves Food Lifeline’s Hunger Solution Center with an enormous load of produce, protein, and shelf-stable pantry items bound for Bellingham. The Food Bank then redistributes the food to 18 smaller food pantries and meal programs, across Whatcom and Island Counties, that don’t have the funds, the trucks, or the staff to secure the food they need for their clients.
Food Lifeline supplies more than one million pounds of food annually to this redistribution operation, providing the equivalent of 250,000 meals to people who are hungry in the northern stretch of Washington.
“We’re the largest city for miles,” says Mike, “so it’s natural that we help serve the smaller towns and communities nearby.”
From as far west as Point Roberts in Island County, to as far east as Peaceful Valley in Whatcom County, Bellingham Food Bank is a key partner in getting the food where it needs to go.