Team Spotlight: Abby Herrick

Meet Abby our Satellite Pantry Coordinator! She works tirelessly each week to make sure our North Seattle College and Magnuson Park pantries are stocked and staffed. These pantries are a vital resource to those neighborhoods and expands our reach further in the community. 

All About Abby!

  1. Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
  2. First concert: New York Philharmonic?
  3. Coffee or Tea: Coffee for sure, but I love a good London Fog.
  4. Favorite Pizza Topping/s: Can’t go wrong with Margherita.
  5. Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: The Bainbridge Island ferry 

What is your school and work background? 

I graduated from undergraduate at Whitman College in 2021 with a degree in music, and have worked with symphonies and music nonprofits in Washington and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as canvassing for Environment New Mexico and working at a Walla Walla Valley winery.

When did you start at University District Food Bank? 

I started in October of 2022 through Americorps and recently became hired on as a full time staff member.

What is your role within the organization?

I coordinate our two satellite pantries, at North Seattle College and Magnuson Park. These pantries allow us to feed more people in our community and those who can’t make it to our U District location.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?

The most fulfilling aspect of my work is getting to see how people care for their community and being a part of this wonderful community!

What would you like our community to know about the Food Bank?

Since I started at the food bank a year ago, the number of people I serve at our satellite pantries has grown markedly, and we need more support than ever. But I also want to take a minute to thank all our volunteers and donors from the bottom of my heart – there is absolutely no way I could do my job without my weekly volunteers at both pantries and at the main food bank, and I am so grateful!

Meet The Original Food Bank Team!


How did you get involved with the Food Bank?

The timing was just remarkable. I can’t tell you what a glorious process it was to set up. Everything just fell into place and everyone wanted to help. The U District was filled with people who had no homes, no food, nowhere to go and we all came together to make the food bank happen. It felt like there a wonderful guiding spirit that helped put this together. 

Dick Cunningham was instrumental in getting the churches behind it and it felt like Trish Twomey appeared out of the blue and was so phenomenal, as was the University Christian Church community. Everyone should have an experience like this in their lifetime.

Were you also on the board?

I wasn’t on the board for the Food Bank but I organized the U-District Service League and this was our response to proliferating social betterment in the neighborhood. We knew it would help if we had an umbrella organization for all the services we’d like to establish. I brought together all the services in the neighborhood to support each other.

What was it like gathering the community together in the early days to donate or volunteer?

This was Trish’s domain – we met every month as part of the Service League to get the Food Bank off the ground. We tried to get as many church members involved at that point as well. University Presbyterian had a large and involved congregation who brought a lot of donations and people to help boost the effort.

What was the biggest challenge to overcome in the beginning?

We didn’t have any competition in the area, and everybody got right in there and did a wonderful job of helping. But in the beginning, initially, it was hard to get the space donated, but then University Christian Church stepped up and we were all so grateful. 

What is your fondest memory of your time volunteering Food Bank? 

The paper drives that Trish organized. One time in particular, I remember her in the back of the truck putting everything together and surrounded by supplies. She had a huge smile on her face even though it was a lot of work. That is a memory I love. I wish someone had a picture of Trish in that moment.

Any other thoughts or memories you’d like our community to know?

The thing that made it go was that everyone sensed a greater need and the city was so helpful. People learned to trust each other and that was a wonderful thing to see grow as we headed into the next decade of community planning. Residents, businesses, faith community all working together made it far better. It’s one thing we did that was a big success because we all came together. 

This trust grew out of a common goal and it’s what we need now to bring everyone together. Tackling a local problem doesn’t just happen, we need to get the engine going again, join hands. This can happen again.

Also, the new food bank is magnificent and Joe is a miracle worker.


How long were you a pastor at University Christian Church?

Eighteen years. I managed education and social justice, which led to the Food Bank. I also ran a program for seniors called the 6:10 Club and the latch-key program, focusing on kids at University Heights grade school, which was before and after school. 

Was there a certain moment or series of events that lead you to co-found the Food Bank?

First thing is the dynamic of the members of the church, very progressive, and cared about what they did in the world. The senior pastor, and my colleague, James Stockdale was an advocate for the church being relevant to the broader University District community. That was in the 1970s. A lot of churches were on the margin with the Vietnam War, churches were split, many didn’t feel they should be socially active and some did, including ours.  

What was it like gathering the community together in the early days to donate or volunteer?

We had a space in the basement that used to be the church boiler room built in the early 1900s, so we said let’s use this space. It had an outside entrance and alley access. People were very willing to engage in it and volunteer. They would come one or three times a week. It’s a basic human need, so why wouldn’t you do it?

What was the biggest challenge to overcome in the beginning?

Where are we going to get the food from? The Church Council of Greater Seattle and the Washington Association of Churches operated out of our church. Boeing had had some bad days and people in the church rallied around that and realized in this country how can we let people go hungry? So it was engrained in our community already. Then Trish set up food drives at various churches and grocery stores and at the UW campus. Trish was a delightful person to take charge of that. She was a dynamo. 

What’s your proudest achievement during those years?

The church responded to the needs of people in the community, and that’s my vision of what the church ought to be doing. Our church was concerned about what was happening today and how can we could help it. There was a line around the block at the Food Bank and you couldn’t ignore it. The community saw the need and stepped up to help.

Boeing was a visible example of people who had lost their jobs, as well as seniors in the community who lived alone or didn’t have resources. The hunger issue is one that is very subtle because who wants to admit that they are hungry in a country with so much food?

Any other thoughts or memories you’d like our community to know?

Trish Twomey was the first executive director and was the most valuable employee that I have ever worked with. I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life and she was an excellent person to grasp the concept and move it forward. She managed the food bank and the 6:10 Club. 

Patty is a gem. She was referred to as the mayor of City Hall in the U-District. She was phenomenal at bringing people together and organizing. We worked together on many projects, including trying to create a youth hostel in the church that ultimately didn’t work out.

These are two powerful women who need to be noted for their work in helping other people. 


What years were you Executive Director of the UDFB? 

May of 1983 until summer 1993, about 10 years. 

How did you get involved?

I was working at University Christian Church running the congregation meal plan and every month, Patty Whisler who worked for the City of Seattle, held meetings with all service providers in the neighborhood. The closest food bank at the time was in Fremont and there was a growing need in northeast Seattle. So Patty started looking around at different churches and locations to operate out of. The University Christian Church was so large, they offered their basement space and it just started to grow organically from there. I made a job for myself in a way, I already had an office there and just took this on. 

What was it like gathering the community together in the early days to donate or volunteer?

Patty led this charge. She was a great community leader. She pulled together a board of directors with people from local churches, clubs, the UW and more. It was amazing to see the community come together. We’d get food from Food Lifeline and NW Harvest and were able to start feeding the neighborhood.

How many families a week did you serve?

We were busy right away and quickly became one of the busier locations in the city. KING5 News was there the first day we opened and we started serving maybe a couple hundred families a week. It grew later to 600 families. Welfare reform in the 80s saw numbers increase as well.

What was the biggest challenge to overcome in the beginning?

Before we opened, I had the opportunity to visit other food banks in Seattle and learn so much from those executive directors. So our operations were solid. The biggest challenge in the early days was getting enough food.

I would often drive to NW Harvest to get more food because we were having a hard time keeping up with demand. About a year or two in we received funding from the City of Seattle. We got donations from local businesses in the neighborhood like Safeco Insurance and many others. We had moments of scarcity and then the money or food would appear and always worked out.

We started running a big campus food drive with all departments at UW, which was a huge amount of food. Hundreds of tons were collected. We had supermarket Saturday’s where we’d hand people lists of what was needed. And the more people learned about what we were doing, donors would send in checks, service clubs were sending money. I don’t remember being under-resourced after those first months. The UW provided all of our volunteers; it was a huge part of our success back then.

How has food insecurity changed in Seattle over the last 40 years?

It’s kind of the same story but in a different time. In the ’80s we were seeing a lot of refugees from the former Soviet Union, and we’re still seeing this and serving a large refugee population in our state.

There’s a lot more attention paid to this issue now and new funding to support it. And, of course, the scale of the food banks now with all staff members and larger shopping spaces is much improved. The shopping with dignity model is more available now, though we’ve always been aware of this with our shoppers and respectful. The Seattle Food Committee was mostly women then, it grew to be more men and now it’s younger people.

What is your fondest memory of your time as executive director? 

It was always there to help people. The mom with four kids who calls day-of for a home delivery. I feel like we surprised people and were there to help them. People who came after hours to the church to get food, and I was happy to help them. People were always surprised and happy that we answered the phone, we really wanted to help people, we had resources and lots of food and always did what we could.

One time I received a call from a Food Bank director on Capitol Hill who needed baby formula for a young mother who was mixing flour and water to make formula. I grabbed formula and raced over to Capitol Hill to give it to her. We had things like formula and diapers, we were so well resourced. And to the help people in a variety of circumstances was so meaningful. 

Meet Molly Deal our Home Delivery Coordinator

Meet Molly Deal! She runs our Home Delivery program and is a vital part of the Food Bank team, making sure our most vulnerable and immobile shoppers get nutritious food delivered to them each week.

Your hometown: Seattle! I grew up around three miles away from the food bank.
First concert: Vance Joy
Coffee or Tea: Coffee, I only drink iced americanos.
Favorite Pizza Topping/s: Mushrooms and spicy sausage
Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: Gasworks or Whidbey

What is your background?
I graduated from University of Washington in 2022 where I studied Economics, Math, and Diversity. After living in Seattle my whole life, I knew that I wanted to work somewhere where I can help support the community that raised me. I am also the child of two social workers, who taught me the importance of advocating for people’s rights and doing all you can to make sure people’s needs are met.

When did you start at University District Food Bank?
I started in the fall of 2022 as an Americorp volunteer. In June of 2023 I was hired on as regular staff.

What is your role within the organization?
I coordinate our Home Delivery program. Every week we deliver groceries to around 250 households that cannot come to the foodbank because they are elderly, disabled, or otherwise homebound. We have teams of volunteers on Wednesdays and Saturdays that pack personalized grocery bags based on customer’s dietary restrictions and preferences. Then, we have volunteer drivers drop off groceries to people’s doorstep. We also partner with the Pedaling Relief Project, which assigns volunteer bikers to deliver groceries to about 50 households in the area.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
There is SUCH a diverse array of people in the food bank space; from my coworkers to volunteers to customers. I find it so fulfilling talking to everyone. You really learn about the full range of human experience. The food bank also definitely functions as an informal community center; I love seeing relationships form between people who would have never met otherwise.

What would you like our donors and volunteers to know about the Food Bank?
Right now, there are around 100 people on the waitlist for our Home Delivery program. Some of our elderly and disabled neighbors have been waiting to be a part of this program for well over a year. In order to move people off the waitlist, we need more regular delivery drivers, either on Wednesdays or Saturdays. We also need more food in order to accommodate the growing program!

To be a volunteer delivery driver sign up online here and our volunteer coordinator will contact you. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Jud Richards

When did you start volunteering at the Food Bank?

I did volunteer orientation in October 2019 and started working in January or February of 2020, so a little over three years working Mondays and Thursdays each week. After only a month or two of volunteering the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown happened. During the pandemic I continued to volunteer two shifts a week like many other volunteers and we all kept it going, we had no disruption to food delivery. If the food bank was open, I was there. 

What are your typical volunteer responsibilities?

I help with grocery rescue, back of house, and packing supplies for families at Seattle Children’s hospital.

Grocery rescue is all about food security and reducing food waste. I rescue food from PCC in Green Lake regularly and when needed I will fill in for other volunteers or staff and pick up from Trader Joe’s in the U-District, among other retailers

It’s amazing to see how many pounds of groceries are donated from PCC and Trader Joe’s. It really helps to fill our shelves with additional produce, bread, frozen items, canned goods and more. I’ll pick up the food then we sort it, check expiration dates and stock it on the shelves. We also pick up baked goods from local bakeries like Madison Park Bakery, which is nice to offer shoppers locally baked items.

Most of our grocery partners take it very seriously, PCC and Trader Joe’s are both in that camp and they make sure to give us quality items.

For back of the house, I work on stocking the shelves, making sure they are full and ready for shoppers, I help keep our backstock full and organized, and sort produce and grocery rescue items. I’ll also operate the pallet jack as needed, and the cardboard baler to compact all the cardboard boxes and keep the space clean. 

Then once a week I work on grocery packs for Seattle Children’s hospital. We’ll provide several days’ worth of food for patients and families in long term care. They get a list of grocery items we offer and choose what they’d like for the week. We work to have culturally relevant foods as well as offering halal or kosher foods. We’ve served families of up to 8 people with these packs and it can go a long way to help stretch grocery budgets while their children are receiving care at the hospital. 

What is your favorite part about volunteering? 

It’s the people – the volunteers and the customers. The people I’ve met here have great stories and interesting backgrounds, and it makes returning twice a week something I look forward to. 

My background is in tech which is a privileged community of people and I really enjoy the diversity at the Food Bank. I also feel compelled to give back and help others, it’s a good feeling and a big part of why I personally keep volunteering.

Why should others volunteer at the Food Bank? 

Food security is critical these days with a lot of unmet needs in our community. We can all do our part to ensure those needs are met as best we can, and you get to meet some great people along the way. 

What else do you want people to know about the Food Bank community? 

The food bank is really a hub for other services that the city offers, it’s focused on food security but there are vaccine drives, access to literature about available resources, an office phone that customers can use to make calls to family or check in with local agencies. The Food Bank is doing everything within its means to help people. They work hard in good faith and make every attempt to meet someone’s needs. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Jess Levine 

Meet Jess Levine, aka the Mayor of the University District Food Bank, who has been consistently volunteering with us for ten years!! He finds so much joy and purpose in volunteering with the Food Bank that he bookends his weeks with a Monday and Friday shift, noting that he’s one of the few people who really looks forward to Mondays. And we look forward to having him!

When did you start volunteering at the Food Bank?

December of 2013 was my first time volunteering here. When I started, we were in the former food bank space in the church basement, a very small space so we all worked close together. When the new space opened, we were so spread out it was strange at first but quickly we came to love how much room we had to get our work done.

Volunteer work has always been a big part of my life. I came to Seattle 25 years ago from Chicago and was involved in a school for children in homeless situations, then I was involved with CASA for seven years which was very rewarding, same as the food bank. I have a background in education working with intercity kids in Chicago and when I was no longer engaged in that work it was important for me to continue serving the community. 

What are your typical volunteer responsibilities?

I work in all kinds of roles, whatever needs to be done that day. I’ll work in the back, help with sorting produce, dry goods and eggs, unload the truck, make PB&Js… I don’t care what it is I’ll just chat people up and have a good time doing the work.

I love meeting new people. Any time I see a new volunteer I greet them and welcome them in. People joke that I’m the Mayor of the Food Bank because I love talking and saying hello to everyone.   

What is your favorite part about volunteering? 

I love the people and the community. There’s a crew of volunteers on Mondays who have been doing this for a long time. Pam, Betsey and I have all become close friends (we’ve been nicknamed PB&J) and we’ll socialize after our shifts, my wife has met so many new friends through my time volunteering here!  

There are many more women than men volunteering at the Food Bank, and I don’t know why that is but we need more men to step up and volunteer their time!

Why should others volunteer at the Food Bank? 

I read an article recently and it said at the end: volunteering is good for the soul. I couldn’t agree more. I personally get so much out of volunteering and being of service to others. If we’re not here to help each other why are we here at all? 

I’ve had volunteer work in my life for as long as I can remember, and it’s always given me purpose. I went to an integrated grammar school on the southside of Chicago in the 1950s. We were middle class and I saw firsthand the disparities in equity between me and my friends and it didn’t feel right to me. My parents were philanthropic and socially responsible so helping people just came naturally. 

What else do you want people to know about the Food Bank community? 

There’s a real sense of collegiality here, it’s not hierarchical. They make you feel at home and the staff is very responsive and supportive. I’ve done volunteer work for 37 years and this is as good as it gets. The shoppers are so appreciative, I’ve gotten to know so many of them and look forward to chatting.

I also don’t burn out here, the work is so important. Food is the most essential basic need, and if we aren’t capable of tackling that issue then we’re in trouble. Food scarcity is something we have the capacity to address if we work together.