VOLUNTEER VIEW: Bellingham Food Bank adds farm-fresh options for hungry families

Bellingham Food Bank was established in 1972 and had about 300 volunteers a week in 2014.

Purpose: Bellingham Food Bank serves free groceries to more than 1,200 Bellingham families each week — that’s nearly 20 percent of Bellingham’s population who depends upon the food bank for support. The average family of three leaves one of four weekly distributions with more than 60 pounds of food with a retail value of about $100. In recent years, Bellingham Food Bank has responded to client requests for more fresh and healthy options by engaging directly with Whatcom County farmers and gardeners to buy, harvest and receive donations of field-fresh produce to serve hungry families.

Volunteer highlights: Volunteers make Bellingham Food Bank run. Each year, they commit more than 32,000 hours of service doing everything from grocery recovery at supermarkets to serving clients or working with agricultural programs. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of food bank operations; they bring a smile to the faces of struggling families and build friendships and work experience while helping their community.

Wish list: Bellingham Food Bank relies heavily upon individual donations and volunteers to fight hunger in our community and keep our operations running. Our agricultural programs need volunteers to help make a big impact through garden mentoring, gleaning and growing victory gardens.

Volunteer needs: Our Gleaning, Victory Garden and Garden Projects need volunteers interested in helping to harvest or grow vegetables for donation to the food bank or to mentor budding gardeners through our Garden Project.

For more information, go online to bellinghamfoodbank.org.