Photo by Brandon Macz: The Ballard Food Bank has a grocery-style layout for people to shop for supplies.
Photo by Brandon Macz: The Ballard Food Bank has a grocery-style layout for people to shop for supplies.

Moving isn’t always fun, but Ballard Food Bank executive director Jen Muzia is excited for the day when the nonprofit will have a permanent place to call home.

The Ballard Food Bank recently closed on its $4.3 million purchase of a new site at 1400 N.W. Leary Way, and plans to open doors to its new facility in fall 2021.

Food banks saw demand increase during the Great Recession in 2008 and, while the economy has bounced back, local organizations have not seen the need for services decrease, Muzia said.

When Muzia joined the Ballard Food Bank as its executive director in 2014, the nonprofit was providing weekend food support for around 100 students in five schools, she said, and now that number has grown to 575 students in 20 schools, eight of which are in Queen Anne and Magnolia.

The number of seniors using food banks also rose from roughly 30 percent citywide, and now older residents account for about 37 percent of the nonprofit’s clientele.

Ballard Food Bank does serve people experiencing homelessness, Muzia said, but most clients are housed. The nonprofit also provides financial assistance to help prevent people from entering homelessness.

“It’s really quite dynamic who comes,” she said.

The food bank recently added the 98103 (Fremont to Licton Springs) area code to its service area.

At the heart of the Ballard Food Bank is its grocery-style food bank, where people can walk the aisles and shop for the things they need. The nonprofit recovers food from 27 locations, including local grocery stores, and is also provided fresh produce from giving gardens at area P-Patches.

The new 12,000-square-foot facility will allow the food bank to expand its grocery store concept.

“The new space will make it easier for people to shop and easier for them to walk through,” Muzia said.

The future facility is still in schematic design, and its construction is currently being supported through an initial $500,000 commitment from the City of Seattle, $750,000 from the State of Washington and $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The new facility will also allow the Ballard Food Bank to expand its community resource hub and add more nonprofit partners.

“For us, partnerships are key,” Muzia said, “because we have so many great nonprofits in our community.”

The food bank launched its community resource hub in 2017, providing space for other nonprofits to work in, meeting clients in the community rather than having them travel — sometimes long distances — to be connected with other services.

“Sometimes you just don’t know where to go,” Muzia said.

The Ballard Food Bank’s community resource hub currently provides space for 15 partner nonprofits, and the new facility will include more offices and privacy for clients to meet with more organizations.

Besides having the ability to increase capacity for the Ballard Food Bank’s programs, Muzia said the new site has bus access and is central to its large coverage area while remaining on Leary.

Pressed for space, the Ballard Food Bank has been in its current location at 5130 Leary Ave. N.W. for the past decade, and its current lease ends in October 2021. If all goes according to plan, Muzia said, the nonprofit would break ground on the new site next fall.

Find out more about the nonprofit at ballardfoodbank.org.