“The New Heart of the U District”

Standing next to the construction site for University Commons, Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), addressed the crowd: “We are calling this the new heart of the U District.”

Spirits were high and the sun beamed down on a crowd of around 80 folks who came out to celebrate the groundbreaking of our new food bank at University Commons last Tuesday, the 16th. Words like “partnership, collaboration, and opportunity” were echoed as our supporters spoke of the benefits this new building will bring for underserved populations in Northeast Seattle and its potential to shape this neighborhood and beyond.

The ceremony began with introductory remarks from our Executive Director, Joe Gruber.

“We have found broad support for the vision of University Commons, a vision of increased opportunity for formerly homeless young adults, integrated with a food bank better and more respectfully able to meet the needs of a changing community, alongside affordable housing that helps protect much needed economic diversity and preserve our neighborhood character.”

Speakers included City Council member Kshama Sawant and former Council member Sally Clark, Senator Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Director for Senator Patty Murray, representatives from LIHI, YouthCare, Office of Housing, Keybank, Impact Capital, and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. The speakers emphasized the importance of this partnership between our food bank, LIHI, and Youthcare to help meet the needs of low-income people in our community. LIHI announced their affordable housing units will be named after Marion West, a civil rights champion. In the 50’s, West rented out rooms in her U District home to people of color at a time when they were restricted from living north of the Ship Canal.

Remember, we still have a ways to go in our Fight Hunger Build Hope campaign and your support is still needed! Donate here.

Thanks to all who came out in support of our groundbreaking and we look forward to seeing you this time next year for our ribbon cutting!

Here is the KING5 story on the groundbreaking, featuring an interview with Joe.

Council member Sawant

Sally Clark

Senator Pedersen

Funders and Partners

Food Bank volunteers: Ria, Robyn, Erica, and Julia

Kyle (Ostara Group), Joe, and Paul

UDFB Breaks Ground at New Location: June 16th

Contact: Evado PR

Lauren Fior McCaffrey

lauren@evadopr.com │425-802-3082



Public event celebrates food bank’s groundbreaking for new mixed-use facility

SEATTLE—June 5, 2015—The University District Food Bank, which serves more than 1100 families each week out of an 800 square foot church basement, is breaking ground on its new 6000 square foot, environmentally friendly facility at 5019 Roosevelt Way Northeast in Seattle’s University District on Tuesday, June 16 at 3:30 p.m.

The ceremony will be held at the new site just north of the corner of 50th and Roosevelt Way. Elected officials and food bank partners Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and YouthCare, will be there to commemorate this special occasion for the new University Commons facility.

“We’re thrilled to be breaking ground on the new University Commons and food bank facility. The support of the community has been vital to making this dream a reality and we are so thankful to all our partners,” said Joe Gruber, University District Food Bank’s Executive Director.

LIHI is overseeing the construction, and will own and operate 48 units of low income housing above the food bank, 16 of which will be managed by YouthCare and reserved for young adults. All residents are expected to use the food bank. YouthCare will run its successful barista training program for at-risk youth, and partner with the food bank for job and life skills training programs. The food bank will be located on the ground floor with indoor waiting area (currently customers have to wait outside) and full ADA accessibility.

In addition to a grocery-store style distribution space, the food bank runs grassroots programs that bring nutritious, healthy, age- and culturally-appropriate food to customers in need. Its home delivery program provides healthy food to 80 homebound senior citizens every week. Packs For Kids gives backpacks of food every Friday to more than 450 K-12 students per week at eight nearby schools.

 The food bank capital campaign, Fight Hunger Build Hope, has successfully raised seventy-five percent of its $3.6 million goal to date with support from local community groups, grants and private donations. The campaign is still aiming to raise another $900,000 by June 2016 to meet the building costs of the new facility and continue to operate with a lean staff of three full-time employees and three part-time employees once the new facility opens.

Completion and move-in are planned for summer 2016. For updated capital campaign and groundbreaking information visit the University District Food Bank website and Facebook.

About the University District Food Bank

For more than 30 years, University District Food Bank has helped prevent hunger in Northeast Seattle neighborhoods. Each week, more than 1,100 different families receive groceries and supplies to prepare nutritionally balanced meals at home as well as toiletries and baby food. UDFB distributes 2.3 million pounds of food annually, about 1.9 million meals per year, and currently serve 5,200 households (9,000 individuals) per year to people living in the 98102, 98103, 98105, 98112, 98115, and 98125. The food bank strives to provide individuals and families in need with food and access to a network of community resources that helps them achieve self-sufficiency.

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Donor Feature: Lar & Dorothy

FritchLar and Dorothy Fritchs’ home in the Lake City neighborhood is surrounded by fruit trees, berry thickets, rows of peas, strawberries, garlic, lettuce, and more. Since 2008, they have expanded their gardens to around 900 square feet in cultivation. For the past three seasons, they’ve planned for overabundance and donate to the Food Bank whatever they can’t eat themselves.

In 2014 they were able to offer us 150 pounds of fresh produce. Lar’s motivation for growing food can be explained by a simple philosophy: “I don’t like lawn,” he says. They have always enjoyed growing vegetables and the impact it can have in their community.

Their vision for the future is to expand the garden further, removing any traces of lawn, and get more people in their neighborhood involved who are interested in growing food but don’t have the space. Dorothy’s goal is to “change the neighborhood one child at a time by getting them hooked on the taste of fresh vegetables.” When neighborhood children pass by the house, Lar and Dorothy offer them fresh produce, hoping the children will then go home and tell their parents they want their own garden.

Lar and Dorothy’s commitment to growing food as a means of shaping their community is clear. Thanks to Lar and Dorothy and all our supporters who allow us to offer the best in locally grown fresh produce to our customers!


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