Queen Anne Food Bank hosts first-ever open house

For most of the week, the Queen Anne Food Bank is bustling.

Volunteers come in early Monday through Thursday to make fresh soup and sandwiches for the four-day-a-week meal program, which has no eligibility requirements.

Customers filter through later each morning, and take a bag with lunch and no-cook items every Friday to help make it through the weekend.

That’s in addition to the weekly grocery program on Thursday afternoons, which serves 75 to 100 people living within four nearby zip codes.

And with just three employees, it all requires the help of dozens volunteers to pull it off. 

Wednesday night was a chance for people to learn more about all of the food bank’s efforts — and what the future has in store — during the its first-ever open house.

The idea came from outreach coordinator James Nelson, who credited Ballard Food Bank Board President Andrew Weber for the concept.

Nelson saw it as an opportunity for the volunteers — many of who help out at different times during the week — to meet and interact.

“This is our house, and so I wanted folks to get to know each other, to sort of start to establish that path down toward creating and building community,” he said.

Stephanie Monroney, the food bank’s director, said it was a chance for donors and the community to see first-hand what they support.

“We just feel like if people set foot inside, and they see the food, and they see what a labor of love it is, then people will be even more engaged in the community,” she said.

The hope is to make the event quarterly or biannually moving forward, with Nelson suggesting the next event could focus more on reaching out to those unfamiliar with the food bank’s work.

“This is sort of a prototype for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Monroney said the main goal for the food bank in 2018 is to scale up its home delivery pilot program, which currently serves an apartment complex in Belltown, bringing 25 people two bags of groceries every other week.

That effort could easily be expanded to serve 100 based on the need in the surrounding area, she said, but there are several logistical challenges to overcome. Such an expansion would require additional refrigeration to take in more food, and more volunteers to make the deliveries.

“It’s a matter of figuring out how to scale that up,” she said.

But, she’s been continually impressed with how the neighborhood has supported their efforts thus far.

“Every week there’s something surprising and amazing, in the form of support, or food, or donations, or time and effort,” she said,” and we’re really, really grateful.”

The Queen Anne Food Bank is located at 232 Warren Ave. N. To learn more, visit www.qafb.org.