What We Do
Since establishing our food bank in a 600 sf activity room inside St. Peter's Mission in 1986, Foothills Food Bank has continued to grow along with the needs of our community. Where we once served a handful of families and individuals, we now provide food to hundreds of households each week from our new 4,700 sf facility at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, with 3 full-time staff and roughly 40 dedicated volunteers.
Our food bank operates as a free grocery store for anyone living in East Whatcom County who needs food. Here they can browse our shelves and refrigerated cases to choose shelf-stable canned goods, dry goods, packaged staples, fresh produce, fresh bread, dairy goods, and frozen protein—for as long as they need it.
Yet Foothills Food Bank does so much more...
We advocate for support and improvement of our local food system
We support local farmers when we purchase produce directly from them with guaranteed contracts
We support committees such as the Foothills Community Food Partnership, Whatcom Food Bank, and Whatcom Food Security Task Force
We provide educational opportunities such as cooking classes with SNAP-ED
We facilitate the Winter and Spring Pantry Program at Mount Baker School District
We host events to better understand community priorities and needs
We build robust community partnerships to bring services and support to the area
Who We Serve
The “Foothills” refers to the rural area of Eastern Whatcom County—home to roughly 9,000 people in a geographic area spanning approximately 620 square miles.
Our service area roughly overlaps with Census Tract 101 and the Mt. Baker School District, including the census-designated places of Peaceful Valley, Kendall, Maple Falls, Glacier, Deming, and Acme.
1 in 6 children in Washington state live in a household that struggles to put enough food on the table. Here in our service area, an estimated 1 in 5 people are considered “food insecure.”
According to a food survey by the University of Washington School of Public Health and Washington State University, Washington state residents who experience food insecurity say their grocery bills are their biggest source of financial stress, more than rent or utilities.
Why it Matters
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified the Mt. Baker Foothills region as a 'rural food desert.' At least 1/3 of our population lives further than 10 miles from a large grocery store. Most of our community, if they have access to a car, must drive more than 20 miles to reach a large-scale grocery store.
As the lead organization of the Foothills Community Food Partnership Steering Committee, our staff have worked to understand food insecurity in our community. We work in concert with stakeholders, developing the 2014 and 2019 Food Landscape Assessments, hosting Food Summits, and crafting Food Access Plans that guide us in creating meaningful, sustainable improvements to healthy food access in our community.
Yet the need for our services is higher than ever before. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflationary pressures on fuel and groceries have resulted in a stark increase in the number of households and individuals utilizing our food bank.
We are serving twice as many people now than this same time last year.
We’re also seeing our area's population grow more rapidly, with five to ten new signups per week from individuals who have never used our food bank before. These trends can likely be attributed to several factors, including inflation causing drastic increases to the cost of groceries and the price of gas, as well as property values in the Western part of Whatcom County rising disproportionately to those on the Eastern side.
With the nearest big-box grocer over twenty miles away, families must now budget an additional ten to fifteen dollars—per trip—each time they need to get groceries and run errands. As a result, more families are depending more heavily on Foothills Food Bank than ever before.
How We Effect Change
Foothills Food Bank is the founding member of the Foothills Community Food Partnership (FCFP)--a consortium of community members and representatives from local organizations who share goals of a healthy, integrated food access system for the entire Foothills region.
Join the Cause
Our volunteers ensure that families get fed and the Food Bank operations can continue. Learn more and consider donating your time—whether once a month or a few hours each week—we've got volunteer roles for everyone!