Meet Our Newest Team Members!

Please welcome four new team members to the University District Food Bank! We’re thrilled to have them on board! 

Christine Bagley: Development Coordinator (left)

  1. Your hometown: Seattle
  2. First concert: Janet Jackson at Key Arena
  3. Coffee or Tea: COFFEE
  4. Favorite Pizza Topping/s: pepperoni, onions and mushrooms
  5. Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: Olympic Sculpture Park
  6. What are you most looking forward to in your new role at the Food Bank? I’m looking forward to spreading the word on the important work we do at UDFB to more members of the community and working with the auction committee to procure some exciting new items for our event. October 7th.  Save the date!

Chey Costello: Pantry Assistant (middle)

  1. Your hometown: Dallas, TX
  2. First concert: The Spice Girls at Starplex in 1998
  3. Coffee or Tea: Earl Grey with honey and soy milk, followed by several cups of coffee/soy lattes
  4. Favorite Pizza Topping/s: Mushrooms!!!
  5. Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: Gas Works for a sunset picnic 🙂
  6. What are you most looking forward to in your new role at the Food Bank? Making new friends and participating in my community!

Kirsten Ourada: Pantry Assistant (right)

  1. Your hometown: Spokane
  2. First concert: Radiohead 
  3. Coffee or Tea: Coffee 
  4. Favorite Pizza Topping/s: jalapeno and pineapple 
  5. Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: swimming by the arboretum, to the rooftop bar at the Graduate for the 360 degree mountain and city views (!) or to a show
  6. What are you most looking forward to in your new role at the Food Bank: getting to know the community of staff, volunteers and customers, and the sense of place that comes with that. 

Thomas Bernardi: Pantry Assistant (throwing up peace signs)

  1. Your hometown: Snohomish, WA
  2. First concert: Stevie Wonder
  3. Coffee or Tea: Coffee for sure
  4. Favorite Pizza Topping/s: Ricotta, Sautéed Arugula
  5. Favorite Place to take out-of-towners in Seattle: Volunteer Park
  6. What are you most looking forward to in your new role at the Food Bank? I am most looking forward to learning how to make the food bank an even better space where everyone involved feels welcome and connected to the community.

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. 

Meet Lena our Food Access Program Coordinator

Lena Kabeshita is one of the Food Bank’s three new team members who came to us through our partnership with AmeriCorps. She joined us in October 2021 to manage our two satellite pantries at North Seattle College and Mercy Magnuson and is such an important part of the work we do for the north Seattle community!

Originally from Illinois, Lena was living and interning in Yakima before coming to Seattle. She is a recent college graduate with a major in soil and crop science and a minor in women and gender studies. 

What is your role at the Food Bank?

I am the Pantry Program Coordinator and I manage our two offsite pantries – North Seattle College on Tuesday nights and Mercy Magnuson place on Wednesday afternoons. I’m responsible for ordering food for the pantries, bringing the food over to each pantry and making sure they are running smoothly. I also coordinate 8-12 volunteers per week to help run the pantries.

Why were these satellite pantries created?

The satellite pantries pre-date the pandemic and were created to serve areas of need in North Seattle where there’s not a food bank nearby or affordable grocery stores. The North Seattle College Pantry was intended to support food insecure students at the college, but it has expanded beyond the student community and grown overall to fill a need among additional North Seattle households. In January 2022 we served 50 student households, 9 staff households, and 98 community member households. 

We purchase food specifically for these pantries each week, then set up and break down on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but each runs a little differently. North Seattle College offers prepacked food in bags and then shoppers choose their protein with a drive-through and walk-up service style. Magnuson is more of a shopping model where guests walk through and choose what they want for the week.

How many families do you serve per week? 

In January at Magnuson we served 320 households for the month and in North Seattle we served 229 households for the month. I want to give a big shout out to the volunteers who dedicate time each week to support these pantries. Their work is invaluable, and I couldn’t operate without them!

One of our regular volunteers at our Magnuson pantry passed away in February. His name was John Tuttle and he had been volunteering at Magnuson for the last year. I want to thank him for all his hard work and dedication to our cause, he will be missed by all of us.