It’s Our 40th Birthday this May!

May officially marks the 40th year of the University District Food Bank!We’re so proud to have served the NE Seattle community for the last 40 years, providing nutritious food to our neighbors in need.

The evolution of our Food Bank is one that took hundreds of thousands of hours and thousands of hands – we think back on all of the staff, volunteers and shoppers that make this community what it is and are so proud of the work that has been done and continues to be done every day.

While we’re so proud of our history and what we’ve been able to accomplish, we also hope for a future where the services we provide are no longer needed and that everyone has equal access to nutritious food.

After 40 years and plenty of economic ups and downs we find ourselves in a moment where the need is stronger than ever and that our job is to continue to ensure that everyone who needs food receives it. 

In times like these our community always steps up to do and give what they can. If you feel compelled to honor us with a 40th birthday donation please know that it will go directly to our food purchasing budget so that we may continue to feed folks as food costs and demand rises. 

Thank you from all of us at the University District Food Bank past and present!

Meet our Farm Manager Shanelle Donaldson & the Bloom Project

Shanelle Donaldson is the rockstar manager behind the Food Bank’s rooftop garden program and has some incredible projects up her sleeve this spring! 

Shanelle started at the Food Bank in October 2020 taking over managing our rooftop garden where we grow seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs year-round to feed the community. With all that she does for us she’s also operated her own business, an urban farm called Percussion Farms, since 2016. It’s a backyard farm model where people donate space and she grows food in Seattle’s Central District, Beacon Hill and in Auburn. Food that’s grown is distributed to food banks and the local BIPOC community. 

In 2021 Shanelle partnered with the Doorway Project to found an urban farming job training program called the Bloom Project, dedicated to educating youth about how to grow food in an urban setting. Last year they had enough funding for one cohort and after receiving grant funding they will be able to offer two cohorts that will each run for 10 weeks in 2022 and in 2023!

The program is offered to 4-5 students per session ages 18-24 and focuses on black and indigenous youth, as well as those experiencing housing insecurity and living in youth care and transitional housing.  The students are paid $20 per hour for 10 hours of training per week and get to experience everything hands-on. They will spend 5 hours at the University District Food Bank and the other 5 hours at Doorway Project where they will work on building an urban garden and growing space. They will learn about food systems, how food is distributed, all about worms and composting from the folks at the Tilth Alliance, a beekeeper will teach them about bees and pollinators, and a local forager will take them foraging in the city

Additionally, art will play a big role in the curriculum offering a creative and healing experience. This includes painting beehives, writing poetry, making lip balm from flowers they grow, making vegetable dyes from veggies they grow, making seed paper, and building a mason beehive.  

After the 10 weeks they hope to place all students in urban agriculture jobs including at farmers markets, with beekeepers and at urban farms like Percussion. Shanelle hopes to open their eyes and minds into the world of urban agriculture which is filled with opportunities they may have never known about. 

Shanelle is also in the process of converting the Food Bank’s rooftop raised beds from milk crates to larger wood and metal beds that are deeper allowing for more growing options. We can’t wait for you to see it when it’s completed later this spring!

Help Us Grow the Food Bank Community in 2022!

We couldn’t serve the families of Northeast Seattle without the support of the University District Food Bank’s amazing volunteers and donors! We have so many incredible people donating money, volunteering their time to help at the Food Bank, organizing community drives and helping to plan events like our Fall auction and more.
Even with all of this help every year we have people who move away, donate to a different cause or just get busy and no longer have the time to spend with us. To keep our community strong we’re asking you to join us in 2022 and help us grow!
Here’s few easy ways to help:

  1. Sign up for our e-newsletters at and share our next one with three friends, encouraging them to sign up as well and stay connected
  2. Text three people and ask them to join you in volunteering or donating any monetary amount they can this year
  3. Post on Instagram and Facebook about getting involved, donating or attending one of our upcoming events

All of this helps to spread the word and grow our reach in the community so we may continue to operate and help more families!