“We bring food and hope to our neighbors … because there can be enough for everyone.”
Most people assume our clients visit just for food, but in reality, food is just part of our mission. Recently I was giving a tour to a long-time donor who stopped me and said, “Wow, I had no idea. You do so much more. You help people in ways that I didn’t even know.” She wasn’t the first person to share that thought with me. The fact is the issue of poverty is complex. Which is why when we look at our mission we realize we need to dig deep and help our clients with a two-pronged approach.
It starts with the belief that food is a basic human right. And that’s why we focus on making our food bank as accessible and welcoming as possible for our neighbors, stocking our shelves with healthy and nutritious options and offering a range of items to meet the dietary and cultural needs of our families. And for those who cannot physically get to the food bank for their weekly groceries, our Home Delivery program helps ensure no neighbor goes hungry.
At the heart of it though, we believe hope is a basic human right. Food Banks are often the first agency accessed by those in crisis or confronting poverty. And that puts us in a unique position of being a reliable point of trust for many in our community. For years we have provided emergency rent and utility assistance as well as DOL vouchers for identification. As we hear our clients’ stories we realize that accessing additional services is a challenge. That’s why our team is focused on understanding the needs of our clients, building strong, collaborative partnerships with agencies in the community that address these needs, and then helping our clients navigate and access these services within our Community Resource Hub or offsite. Now clients can shop and connect with our staff and partner agency services without taking another bus or waiting another day.
We recognize the path to self-sufficiency looks different for every person. One of our clients completed a court-mandated alcohol and drug assessment onsite with Community Psychiatric Clinic, preventing reincarceration. Another client was illegally evicted, and by accessing the services of Tenants Union, moved from a homeless shelter back into housing. These individuals visited Ballard Food Bank for only groceries, yet left with a host of needs addressed.
We are grateful. We are grateful for all our partners, volunteers and donors who help us dig deeper to tackle an issue as complex as poverty and bring both food and hope to our neighbors.
- Jen Muzia, Executive Director