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 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 Karilynn Cooper, our Community Connector

Where did you grow up?

Born and raised in Sacramento, CA. 

What is your background? 

For my educational background I earned a BA in social work from Cal State Sacramento. Professionally I spent 7-8 years doing various social work or case management roles at a variety of organizations. I worked with AmeriCorps in Spokane and that brought me to Seattle in 2015. I’ve worked with people living with HIV, people with substance disorders and severe mental illness. 

When did you start at University District Food Bank?

Late September of 2021. My title is Community Connector officially, but I also go by Community Engagement and Resource Specialist.  My role can also be referred to as a social worker. I help our shoppers obtain various resources including housing, SNAP benefits and more.

What is your role within the organization?

I prioritize client work and spend at least 50 percent of my time with clients of the Food Bank, but it varies day to day based on what our clients need. I operate a walk-in program to make it easier for customers to have access to my services vs. making appointments. This helps to meet people where they are at and not feel constrained or that they will miss an appointment. I will also offer appointments if that’s easier for another client.

Shoppers find me by word of mouth typically I also have cards and flyers around the Food Bank to inform someone who might be new. Customers often come in to shop and ask if we have someone who can help them with accessing services. 

Some needs are quick and simple, and others require a lot of help. I will meet with them as many times as it takes to get them the access to the resources they need. If their needs go above my abilities, I will recommend them to other local services.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?

I love the relational part of the job, not so much the paperwork! I have a lot of regular customers that I’ve bonded with over the last year. Some will come in just to touch base about their life – share their triumphs or setbacks. I love that they are comfortable to come to me and share this info. 

I encourage people to come back and share updates and keep in touch, I love those moments with them. It’s a difficult job for sure and those are the parts that keep me sane and keep me going.

The most difficult part of this position is seeing the many setbacks within the systems in place and the hoops that customers must jump through. As a society we’re not prepared to care for people who are chronically homeless. This has required me to change my outlook in order to move forward and be present with clients. It’s taught me to celebrate the small wins. 

I’ve seen a lot of small wins over the last year and positive changes in people. And it’s important for our customers to have someone who holds on to those wins for them, someone who notices how hard they are working and acknowledges that. 

What would you like our donors and volunteers to know about the Food Bank?

I want to extend gratitude to the volunteers and staff. They have such strong relationships with our clients that it makes it easier for customers to trust me because they know we all have their best interest in mind. Thank you to everyone who makes this community go around. 

Meet Dave, our Beloved Food Bank Greeter!

When did you start at the Food Bank?

I started in January 2020 as a checkout person inside the Food Bank. Covid-19 hit Seattle shortly after that and we shifted operations outside. I was asked to be a greeter and chat with shoppers while they waited. It was getting to be spring, and I loved being outside with people.

Tell us about being a greeter at the Food Bank?

The people here is the best part. I know the community well now – after two years of seeing the same people our regulars become my friends. I’ve gained about 2000-3000 friends working here! When people don’t come one week, I miss them. 

I love speaking to them while they wait and keeping them company. Sometimes it’s standing in the rain for hours. I often like to walk around and sing and one of our customers says she comes just to hear me sing. 

I’ve always been a customer service-oriented person and simply enjoy talking to people. Previously I owned a construction company where I would rebuild houses for bed and breakfasts in Tacoma and Auburn. I moved to Seattle in 2011 after meeting my wife through an accidental text and phone call where we just started talking.

What do you enjoy about the Food Bank staff?

The directors have a gift when it comes to hiring and the staff fits so well together, it’s like a family.  I often am told how much I’m missed when I’m not there. The staff is so close because everyone has a common goal of making sure people’s needs are met. A lot of our shoppers are homeless and struggling, they are vulnerable and need someone to talk to. Everyone here understands that.

Every part of our team must work together because we’re dealing with so many parts that are interconnected. From food purchasing and donations to getting the food here, to the sorters who check for quality, to stalking our shelves. From there we have volunteers who shop for people and they need to be picky and not just throw things together you want the person receiving the food to enjoy it and to feed their family with pride. 

This is where volunteers come in; without them this full range of operations would not happen at the level it does. They are so appreciated. 

What else do you want people to know?

I feel like it’s my calling, to make people feel loved. Everyone has to eat, and we are here to help people from all walks of life. Our team knows how to meet people where they are without judgement, it’s been amazing to be a part of. 

Our older customers have so many stories. They talk with me and want to share and be heard, their stories are so rich. I feel honored to be a part of it.