Winter Wishes 2016

IMG_20151223_112125 Each Holiday season, UDFB partners with University Village for their Winter Wishes program. Food bank customers fill out wish lists for their children written on tags, which are hung on trees at U-Village. Individuals then select a tag and purchase the items, which are picked up by the food bank and distributed to families the day before Christmas Eve. This year, we received gifts for 75 families.

Marc and Rene Therrien have been volunteering for the gift distribution for 14 years, leading the event for most of that time. They first got involved when their daughter Ellie was 10 year old and part of the Pioneer Girls at University Presbyterian. The Therriens responded to a call for volunteers, and now 14 years later, Ellie confidently instructs new volunteers on their system. “It’s the one thing as a family, where we’re able to get outside of ourselves and give back,” Marc explains. “It’s also important for us to give our kids this experience, for them to interact with people they wouldn’t ordinarily meet.”

Each year, the Therriens rally volunteers, mostly family friends, to help organize and distribute gifts to food bank customers. This years’ group was the largest yet, with over 20 volunteers. Volunteers enthusiastically moved throughout the UCC Social Hall, matching gifts with their respective wish lists, distributing other donated items such as hand-knitted hats, gloves, and scarves, bagging them up, and retrieving bags when their owners arrived to claim them.

Elise Graue has been volunteering for Winter Wishes with her family for five years. “My favorite part is when the families arrive and we’re able to see their joy when they receive the gifts, and the impact we’re making,” she says.

We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who fulfilled Winter Wishes gift requests, the Therrien family, and their team of volunteers for helping the distribution run smoothly.  Thank you for bringing some holiday joy to food bank kids this season. Happy holidays!

IMG_20151223_114538_1Executive Santa

IMG_20151223_104309Decorating gift cards

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Home Delivery: Meet our Customers

Home Delivery is one of our fastest growing programs at UDFB. The program began in 2010 to serve those in our community unable to access the food bank due to advancing age, medical condition, or physical disability. Participation in Home Delivery has doubled over the past three years. Thanks to our amazing volunteer drivers, we now serve 85 households on six different routes, delivering an estimated 1,400 pounds of food per week to our homebound customers in Northeast Seattle.

Will

Volunteer Home Delivery drivers

Will has been on Home Delivery for three years. He lives in low-income housing and has a limited budget to spend on food, in addition to medical problems that make it difficult for him to access a grocery store or food bank.

“The food I receive through Home Delivery has been really helpful in rounding out my weekly groceries, and has made a big difference in my diet.” He’s particularly noticed the increase of fresh, organic vegetables in his box these past few months, since the food bank started purchasing from Puget Sound Food Hub. “The extra produce has made me get creative with my cooking. Now I make a lot of soups and stews, and started putting greens in my smoothies.”

When I asked Will how UDFB has affected his life, he responded, “Home Delivery makes Wednesdays important. I focus on prepping and storing the food I receive, and then planning out how I’ll use items throughout the week.” Like many of our customers, Will is resourceful in finding recipes for some of the less glamorous vegetables. When he received kohlrabi in his box, he researched recipes and found simple, versatile ways to prepare it. “Having food delivered has been a godsend,” he says.

 

 

 

Randy

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Randy, a recipient of Home Delivery

Randy has been on Home Delivery for about a year. Randy is a disabled veteran who moved to Seattle from New Orleans five years ago. Randy stays true to his Cajun heritage through his love of cooking. As a participant in Cooking Matters classes through Solid Ground, Randy taught his peers how to make seafood jambalaya and gumbo.

“The Food Bank has been a real blessing, not just for me, but for all of us receiving boxes,” he says. Randy especially enjoys the fresh fruits and vegetables we are able to provide him with each week, and added that the choices are always improving. “Being on Home Delivery has been a positive experience,” he says. “I really appreciate the work the food bank has done.”

Farmers Market Vouchers

logoDid you know the food bank distributes $10,000 worth of Farmers Market vouchers to our customers each year? Through our partnership with the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA), every food bank customer is eligible to receive monthly vouchers equivalent to $6 during the peak growing season, or late June through the end of November, when the maximum amount of produce is available. Vouchers improve access to fresh, local produce to those who need it most, as well as supporting small-scale farmers in our community.  This program also allows us an opportunity to give back to the Farmers Market and thank them for their abundant food donations throughout the year.

UDFB has a longstanding relationship with the NFMA and has been gleaning leftover produce from the U District Market every Saturday since the market’s inception in 1993. This partnership is made strong by our amazing volunteers willing to help collect produce each weekend and our local farmers wanting to participate and give back. Each year, volunteers help us glean between 12-14,000 pounds of fresh vegetables from the market.

Farmers Market vouchers can be used at the U District, Capitol Hill Broadway, Columbia City, Lake City, Phinney, Magnolia, and West Seattle Farmers Markets. This offers flexibility to our customers by allowing them to shop at one of seven markets in the city which may be closer or more accessible to them than the food bank. Vouchers also offer a discreet and culturally appropriate way for our customers to make their own choices about food rather than being dependent on what the food bank has available on a given day. And their vouchers can be combined with food stamps and the bonus fresh bucks program to increase their buying power.

Anna Sparks, Outreach and Development Coordinator at NFMA, sees these vouchers as an important incentive to get people to come out to the market, and a way to support local food and farmers while expanding access to healthy food. We are so grateful for this important partnership with the Farmers Markets and look forward to future collaborations!

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Our First Period Packing Party

By: Kailin Mooney 

“The fact that menstruation is a taboo topic to begin with, means that people who are able [to] help, often aren’t even aware that such a vast need exists.”

Robyn asked if I would consider guest blogging about a visionary benefit house party we both attended a few weeks back. This particular event was a first for UDFB – a volunteer coordinated drive for feminine hygiene and baby products that coincided with an open community repack party hosted by two of our community members.

Adela and Mern were disheartened after reading a recent article written by Eleanor Goldberg for the Huffington Post, which exposes the heartbreaking difficulties facing homeless women each month. In her article, Goldberg points out, “The fact that menstruation is a taboo topic to begin with, means that people who are able [to] help, often aren’t even aware that such a vast need exists.” In response, Marian and Adela reached out, inspiring over 30 people to donate and repack tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and larger sized diapers! They even had baby wipes to add to each package of diapers and unused make-up, tooth brushes and toothpaste to add to the feminine hygiene bundles.

At UDFB, feminine hygiene products are highly sought after and are a rare donation. Customers often quietly scan the shelves behind our check out stations for signs that we might have pads or tampons before quietly requesting them for themselves or family members. Relief is clear when we have items to provide. Thanks to Adela, Mern and all of the donors and volunteers who participated in their event, our shelves were stocked throughout the month of October, and we expect, will remain so well into November.

Our gratitude runs deep. People who see a need and take action keep our doors open, our shelves stocked, and our hearts full. Thank you Adela, Mern and our incredible community of supporters for all you do for UDFB each and every day. We couldn’t do this work without you.

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Flavors of Fall in the Food Bank

Fall is upon us, and for me, there is no better time to cook seasonally and resourcefully. As we begin receiving large quantities of fresh vegetables through our purchasing contract with a local farm (see previous blog post), we’ve distributed a couple new recipe cards both in the food bank and in our Home Delivery boxes to give folks some inspiration about using these veggies in simple, versatile ways.

1. Buttercup Squash Soup

This soup is full of sweet, hearty winter squash and veggies that are staples in the food bank like potatoes, carrots, and onions. Buttercup squash is also delicious cut in half, filled with diced apples and cinnamon, and roasted.

Recipe adopted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/buttercup-soup-recipe.html

Recipe adopted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/buttercup-soup-recipe.html

Ingredients:

3 tbsps. butter

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped

4 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 cup cream or milk 

Instructions:

In a large pot, melt butter and cook onions until tender.

Stir in carrots and jalapeno, toss to coat. Stir in chopped squash.

Pour in chicken stock and bring to a summer. Simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Puree soup in blender in batches.

Return to pot and stir in cream. Season to taste. 

 

2. Raw Beet & Broccoli Slaw

This slaw uses broccoli stalks instead of florets for extra crunch. The recipe is very flexible and can be made with any of your favorite crunchy vegetable such as carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, or jicama. For those wary of raw beets, you can roast them in advance before grating!

beetslaw

Ingredients:

2 beets

2 broccoli stems

1/2 cup red onion

1/4 cup oil

3 tbsps. apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar

Salt & Pepper

Optional additions: Cooked chickpeas, raisins, toasted nuts

Instructions:

1. Grate or slice all veggies thinly

2. Combine all ingredients in bowl and season to taste

3. Chill in fridge at least 1 hour before serving.