Volunteer Spotlight: Jorge + Stephen

Volunteers Jorge and Stephen met while volunteering at the Food Bank on Saturdays. You can count on these friends to be there each weekend helping to sort and pack food, load delivery vehicles, or tend to any tasks that are needed, and have some fun and laughs along the way.

Thank you both for your dedication to this community!!

Meet Jorge Montesinos

When did you start volunteering at the Food Bank?
July 2022. 

What are your typical volunteer responsibilities?
Helping with home deliveries is the main task I help with. The Food Bank has a list of people who receive a box filled with food each week. Every Saturday, I help the drivers who pick them up, making sure each box being picked up matches the list while assisting drivers to load and with directions. 

What is your favorite part about volunteering? 
Volunteers and staff have a great sense of camaraderie; times go by very quickly when you work with friendly and kind-hearted folks! Another aspect I enjoy very much involves translating for some of the drivers who show up to pick up weekly boxes. It is very rewarding to help some members of the immigrant community feel welcome as I can translate and even share a few laughs in Spanish.    

Why should others volunteer at the Food Bank? 
The Food Bank’s mission is essential for the community as it steadily tackles such a pressing matter as food insecurity in Seattle. Everyone can help! There are many ways to do so, from greeting customers, organizing deliveries, cleaning, etc. Plus, you get to know and share your time with a truly wonderful and fun group of people!   

What else do you want people to know about our Food Bank community?
There is room for everyone at the Food Bank. You can find teens working with their parents, corporate executives, church groups, and retired people. Each one has an interesting story behind to tell about why they are helping the Food Bank. In a way, each story offers a unique angle to a problem such as food insecurity in Seattle and the United States. In this sense, volunteering at the Food Bank feels good and it is a non-conventional educational experience.

Meet Stephen Rodas

When did you start volunteering at the Food Bank?
October 2022

What are your typical volunteer responsibilities?
On Saturdays: making sure that the correct boxes are loaded for the drivers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Those noon and 1 o’clock rushes can be quite hectic. Any shift I work during the week I just float to what’s needed (greet, stock, sort, etc.).

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Bothering the fellow volunteers and wonderful employees at the food bank!

Why should others volunteer at the Food Bank? 
The volunteers and workers at the food bank are all such awesome people, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding to help others in even the smallest capacity, and there’s free coffee.

What else do you want people to know about our Food Bank community? 
There’s also free snacks for volunteers 🙂 

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 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.

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.