university district food bank

The University District Food Bank is dedicated to building a hunger-free Northeast Seattle by providing their neighbors with reliable access to healthy food and life-changing resources. The Food Bank offers a grocery store style shopping experience for customers, where they are offered dignity through choice and able to find food items that are culturally relevant. In July 2016, University District Food Bank moved from the University Christian Church into a new home, one shared with 49 affordable housing apartments and a job skills training coffee shop. With this transition, they were able to significantly increase the amount of food provided to the Northeast Seattle community as their space increased in size, allowing for the creation of a rooftop garden, Rooftop Roots, as well as adding and expanding additional programs. Today, they remain one of the busiest food banks in the City from the perspective of total household visits each month.

One of the most notable characteristics of the University District Food Bank – in addition to the size and scope of their services – is the support they receive from community volunteers, particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether fulfilling orders by shopping for customers, sorting usable food in the back, or putting together home delivery packages, the food bank is bustling with dedicated volunteers every day of the week.

The University District Food Bank operates a walk-in food bank four-days a week to individuals and families from across Northeast Seattle. They offer food, toiletries, baby formula, diapers, pet food, and connections to important community resources to residents of zip codes 98102, 98103, 98105, 98112, 98115, and 98125. Customers may visit once per week during any of their open hours. Some additional services the Food Bank provides are:

Home Delivery Program: If you live within our service area and have physical difficulties, disabilities, medical conditions, or other barriers that prevent you from coming into the walk-in food bank, and do not have someone to shop on your behalf, they offer a home delivery program. Every Wednesday they close the walk-in food bank to pack and deliver boxes filled with groceries to 200 households. Teams of friendly, food bank volunteers bring you a box of groceries to help meet your nutritional needs for the week. 

Packs for Kids: In collaboration with fourteen local Seattle public schools, the Food Bank provides weekend meals and snacks to children who are at risk of food insecurity when free or reduced school meals are unavailable. These packs of food contain items that are age-appropriate, nutritious, simple to prepare, and easy to take home in a school bag. This program is successful because of the hard work done by our school partners – the staff that work at the school as well as parent volunteers who collect the food from the food bank and deliver to the school. During the 2018-19 school year, The Food Bank distributed 22,400 packs of food!

Magnuson Park Pantry: This is a collaboration with Solid Ground, University Family YMCA, and Mercy Housing Northwest. The Magnuson Park neighborhood was designated a food desert and was an area of concern for hunger due to the limited public transportation and lack of surrounding grocery stores. To combat the food insecurity in this area, the Food Bank opened a pantry with a small variety of food including some fresh produce that serves about 110 households each week. Open every Wednesday from 11:00am – 2:00pm!

Rooftop Garden Project: Situated on the roof of the University District Food Bank lies an urban oasis of a garden that grows local produce. The 2000 square foot farm is built entirely out of milk crates, lined with landscape fabric, and filled with soil. Every food item that is produced in the Rooftop Garden heads directly downstairs to the Food Bank, where it is often taken away by customers the day of harvest. The folks that manage the Rooftop Garden plant and harvest food throughout the year, growing over 300 different items to distribute to folks accessing the Food Bank.

How to Get Involved:

Volunteer to sort, package, and deliver food orders. Volunteers make up the backbone of this amazing organization. With just a three hour commitment each week you’ll be able to make a difference in the lives of those in your community!

Grow and Donate your own produce: From your P-Patch or at-home garden, you can donate fresh fruits, vegetables, more! 

Use your voice to advocate local and state lawmakers to support initiatives that fund nutrition programs and other food distribution service

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