Joe Jenkins, who has volunteered with Queen Anne Food Bank for nearly a decade, mans the dairy counter at the free supermarket.
Joe Jenkins, who has volunteered with Queen Anne Food Bank for nearly a decade, mans the dairy counter at the free supermarket.

Whether it’s giving out roughly 44,000 lunches a year or clocking in 5,000 trips to its free supermarket, the Queen Anne Food Bank stays active all year.

Director Tom Walsh said that the food bank has expanded its services in the past year. When some Queen Anne emergency shelters opened up during the February snowstorm, a lot of people using those resources ended up staying in the area, he said.

“We've grown an awful lot… which is not really good news, but we are able to serve a lot more people,” Walsh said. “You know, ideally we would go out of business, but that means someone to solve the problem of homelessness and hunger. But we've grown and, you know, over the last year, we've really picked up quite a few people coming to the door.”

The organization offers daily meals to anyone who happens to be in the area and weekly access to a small, free supermarket room from 2-4 p.m. Thursdays for those with homes in zip codes 98109, 98101, 98119 and 98121.

“We serve a little over 900 people a week,” Walsh said. “Most of it is out the door. So Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30, we have people come up. We make these beautiful soups down here and sandwiches, yogurt, fruit — lunch.”

People from local households are allowed to choose from a selection of meat, canned goods, breads, pastries and more from the supermarket.

About 360,000 pounds of food comes through the food bank annually. A lot of it comes from food drives at neighborhood schools and from local supermarkets.

The food bank is currently conducting a sock drive, and is dropping off barrels for sock donations at places like Queen Anne Dispatch and the Coalfire technology firm. Socks can also be dropped off at the food bank during operating hours at 232 Warren Ave. N.

“We're trying to do socks twice a week,” Walsh said. “They're a little harder to keep and a little bit harder get a hold of… I'm hoping to get a few thousand pairs in because we can give away an awful lot, but we want to do that twice a week, all year. Some of the places, like Nordstrom, they've got employees giving us all kinds of things — buying at Nordstrom and bringing them to us. I'm also trying to get Nordstrom to donate a bunch of socks.”

Since Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday each year, the food bank will be open for the holiday.

“Thanksgiving is a great day for eating in Seattle, so we'll be here,” Walsh said. “And the guys that come here eat a little bit less than normal cause they’re saving up to go to their Thanksgiving dinner.”

Walsh said the organization is also expanding its hygiene service to Tuesdays and Fridays.

“Guys can come up and ask for things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, razors — all kinds of things,” Walsh said.

Food bank volunteer Ellen Monrad said the organization is seeking more hygiene product donations to accommodate the expanded service. Monrad chairs the Queen Anne Community Council, and has been volunteering at the food bank for about a year.

“People that are homeless often lose their their toothbrushes, their toothpaste, their soap,” Monrad said. “Any small items. They love Irish Springs soap — that’s a secret. Irish Springs soap.”

Even though the Queen Anne neighborhood is considered by many to be a wealthy community, Monrad said, there are many low-income households and people experiencing homelessness that desperately need the services.

Volunteer Deb Milne said the food bank really creates a community for all people who live in Queen Anne.

“It’s excellent,” she said. “People are always so grateful for the food that we have here. I think it allows people to create a nice dinner and enjoy their community.”

Joe Jenkins, who has been volunteering with the food bank for about a decade, agrees.

“A lot of people depend on (the food bank),” he said. “The morning program makes sack lunches and hot soup — some really good stuff. There are lines out there — 70-, 80-people-long… We always could use more volunteers here. It’s a great, fun place to work.”

The Queen Anne Food Bank also receives fresh produce from UpGarden, which is slated to close next fall. While a great organization, Walsh said, its decline will not significantly impact the food bank.

For more information, call 206-216-4102 or visit