givebigpromoWe’re excited to be participating in the Seattle Foundation’s annual GiveBIG event for the sixth year in a row. During GiveBig 2015, we had 127 donations totaling $25,827. In this year of so much growth and transition for our food bank, we hope we can count on your support to top that number! Donations will allow us to purchase nutritious foods and provide key services to our hungry neighbors.

Donations made through our GiveBIG page on May 3rd will be stretched by 8.5-11% through the Seattle Foundation’s matching funds. This allows you as an individual to make an even larger impact on reducing food insecurity in Northeast Seattle.

  • $500 buys a week’s supply of fresh, locally grown produce for the 95 families in our Home Delivery program.
  • $250 allows us to offer 2 lbs. of oranges to each family that visits us for a day.
  • $100 funds the fresh fruit that we include in our weekend Packs For Kids program.
  • $50 lets us buy a case of military-style can openers to distribute to customers experiencing homeless throughout the year.
  • $25 provides milk for 10 families during the week.

Thanks to your support, we are able to serve 1,100 families, deliver food to 95 homebound adults, and provide weekend food to 500 middle, elementary and high school students through our Packs For Kids program weekly.

So remember to mark your calendar for May 3rd, or schedule your donation in advance on the GiveBIG homepage: https://givebig.seattlefoundation.org/ 



On ‪#‎GiveBIG‬ Days 1 & 2, we received 176 donations totaling $26,935 (before the stretch). Thank you for helping us exceed our goal!


Power Lifting Champion at 77


Winifred proudly models her medals as American Champion

Winifred Pristell of Baton Rouge, LA is 77 years old and lives in low-income senior housing in Northeast Seattle. She’s been receiving Home Delivery from the food bank for two years.  Winifred also currently holds the World, National and State records for single lift bench press for her age group and weight class.

As of March 2016, Winifred has been inducted in the Washington State Hall of Fame as a world record holder for weight lifting, and plans to compete at the World Powerlifting Championship in Las Vegas this fall. She trains every week, while also undergoing physical therapy for knee injuries and arthritis. Winifred raises the funds to compete from friends and by posting flyers in her gym to tell her story.

In her 40s, Winifred struggled with an unhealthy weight. “It reached the point where I felt like I was dying,” she says. She started taking walks with her daughter, eventually building up to three miles a day, and going to the gym.  She remembers seeing a woman at her gym lifting weights and saying, “I want to do that.”

When I asked how weight lifting has changed her life, she replied, “I used to be more of an introvert, and now I’m an extrovert. Lifting makes me more positive; I see things differently now.” Winifred shares that she will keep weight lifting for the rest of her life. “It’s what I live for and what I love.”

Winifred is also vocal about the importance of good nutrition in her lifestyle, which is why the food bank is so meaningful to her. Between her physical disabilities and fixed income, Winifred is unable to get around the food bank or shop at a grocery store.  “The volunteer home delivery drivers are so kind, and the food I receive is such high quality,” she says. “I look forward to it each week.”

She loves to cook using ingredients supplied by the food bank. Her favorite recent creation was a roast with vegetables. “I don’t know where in the world I’d be without the food bank. They make me feel like I am something special.”

Fight Hunger Build Hope – March 2016 Update

By: Joe Gruber

Storefront of new food bank

In all honesty, it still seems more than a little surreal. Even though we’ve been fundraising for our new food bank home for over four years now, and we’ve made incredible progress toward our $3.6 million campaign goal – we are 88% of the way there – the idea that we will have a new food bank in just a few short months still seems rather unbelievable. And while we haven’t even moved out yet, I’m feeling a little nostalgic. I’m going to miss the warren of overcrowded rooms and closets we occupy here at University Christian Church. That said, I am really excited about our new food bank at University Commons and all its potential for the community.

When we broke ground last June, it didn’t take long for noticeable progress to be made. The foundation was poured and all the walls erected over the summer. The roof was on and the building all sealed up from the elements before Thanksgiving. And as I met with folks in the neighborhood, everyone commented on the progress. Or, as a friend who works across the street was quick to point out, we knew that things were happening because we could hear all the heavy construction equipment backing up…beep, beep, beep, beep.

There’s plenty of work still to be done before we can call this our home. Our first distribution day in our new space won’t be until July [knock on wood]. But next time you’re at Scarecrow Video or at the U-District branch of the Seattle Public Library, I invite you to pause a moment, peer through the fence, and check out our progress.


View from inside food bank

View from inside food bank

Future back store room

Future back store room






Calling All Empty Egg Cartons!

eggscDo you eat eggs? Unless you get your eggs from a hen house in your backyard, chances are your eggs come in an egg carton. One unique way that you can support the food bank is to save your used, clean egg cartons and drop them off at our receiving window.

Here is why you should “upcycle” your egg cartons at UDFB:

Egg cartons help us improve food access for our customers. We receive at least 40 dozen eggs each week from our partner grocery stores, many of which contain just one broken egg while the rest are perfectly fine. With extra empty cartons on hand, volunteers are able to repackage the eggs so they can quickly find their way into someone’s shopping basket.

Thanks for reading, and say hi to me when you bring those empty egg cartons by!


Packs For Kids Q&A!

Packs For Kids started in 2011 when staff and parent volunteers at Eckstein Middle School noticed that some students were too hungry to focus on their studies, and worked with UDFB to establish the program. Since then, we’ve expanded to 10 other Seattle K-12 schools, serving nearly 500 students on free-and-reduced lunch.

Because each of our partner schools uses PFK a bit differently, I spoke with staff and volunteers from a few schools (Eckstein Middle School, Hazel Wolf K-8, Jane Addams Middle School, and Sand Point Elementary), to hear their take on the program.

Volunteers making packs at Eckstein Middle School

Q: How did you first get involved in PFK? What was the need like at your school?

A: Dolly Smith, parent volunteer at Eckstein Middle School

I first got involved with Packs For Kids three years ago when my daughter was in sixth grade.  I recruit and coordinate volunteers at the beginning of the school year, distribute flyers, and offer info about signing up when parents come to the school for first day orientation. There’s a broad awareness of the program across the school, as staff and counselors refer students in need of food assistance.

A. Kris Van Houten, Volunteer Coordinator at PTA for Sand Point Elementary

Sand Point distributes 65-70 packs a week. We send flyers home for parents to sign up, as well as advertising in the school’s e-newsletter. Family support workers are in contact with families needing assistance, so they are often the ones connecting them to the program.

A. Megan Riber, Assistant Secretary at Jane Addams Middle School

When JAMS opened as a new middle school last year, we had a great group of parent volunteers who worked with our principal to get PFK started. We had students coming from other schools in the area that had used PFK or similar programs and we wanted to continue to have that support in place for the students.




Q: How has the program changed over time?

A. LauraLeigh Young, Volunteer Coordinator at Eckstein

As free-and-reduced school lunch information is confidential, it was initially a challenge to identify students who needed the packs. But now that the program is well-established, students generally approach staff to sign up. There’s a strong volunteer base and word-of-mouth among students.

A. Kara Dowidar, PTSA board member at Hazel Wolf

The school has explored additional ways to offer food to students at school.  We also hope to offer extra packs available for staff to distribute as needed when a situation arises, such as students becoming newly homeless, or a parent losing a job.

A. Megan Riber, Assistant Secretary at Jane Addams

Since we started the program new when we opened our school last year, it took a while to get the word out to students and their families. Now in our second year, we’ve worked through some of the issues and have a pretty established routine that the students know. We’ve also been lucky to have an awesome group of volunteers who are flexible and willing to make sure the program is working well for our school. One of our counselors told me about a mother who has 6 kids and asked for any help with food that we could give. For families like this, packs for the weekend and over breaks are a big help.

Q: What are any barriers to students or their families accessing PFK?

A. Kara Dowidar, PTSA board member at Hazel Wolf

Language is a barrier. We’ve enlisted the support of ELL teachers to help with translating materials and signing up students as needed. We try to be as flexible as we can. This also applies when students are uncomfortable receiving the packs in their classroom, they can pick them up in the office.

A. Megan Riber, Assistant Secretary at Jane Addams

One of the challenges we’ve had is getting the information about PFK out in all the different languages spoken by the families in our school. I’ve worked with our bilingual IAs to get the information translated into a few of the languages that are most common, and sent these materials home.

Another challenge is that with each new school year, we get a whole new class of students to get to know, so it takes time to get them plugged in with the program. To help with this, I have reached out to our feeder elementary schools with some success, although they don’t all have similar programs in place. We also make sure to get flyers for our program out to all families in our first day packets along with informing all of our students that the packs are available in their Advisory classes.

Q: Other comments?

A. Kara Dowidar, PTSA board member at Hazel Wolf

This program is so simple to get started and maintain and the Food Bank does so much by providing food. The rest of the work is just once or twice a month, but once it gets flowing it almost runs itself. One thankful happy smiling kid says it all.


Thank you to all of the teachers, staff, parents, and students who help facilitate Packs at their schools, and ensure their students have nutritious food on the weekends. Special shout out to our PFK and Home Delivery Coordinator, Julia Fulk. This work wouldn’t be possible without you!