Lynnwood food bank - may 6, 2020

As we prepare for another distribution today, I thought I'd share our statistics from the month of April.
As we entered the month we had no idea what we should expect. Would our numbers go up or down with people staying home? Would we have enough volunteers to serve? Would we have enough food to meet the need? Would we be able to serve safely? So many questions, and we didn't really have many answers.
We just did what needed to be done, and we met many new friends along the way in both new volunteers, new donors, and new customers. Everyone involved in the Food Bank during the month of April deserves a huge THANK YOU.
You helped us serve our community; 2,678 households with 9,750 individuals. Each of those households came to the Food Bank and left with at least one of their needs fulfilled.
We live in an amazing community. Thank you for helping make life easier for almost 10,000 people during the month of April.

Food Banks need extra support

as they ramp up to meet demand

fueled by covid-19

With demand already doubling and expected to increase further as the COVID crisis deepens, local food banks – and their customers – are feeling the strain.  Now more than ever they need help from the community to support their mission to serve our neighbors in need.

The Edmonds Food Bank operates out of the Edmonds United Methodist Church. It is open for food distribution on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and Monday evenings.

“On a typical Monday we serve maybe 80-100 families,” said Edmonds Food Bank Director Casey Davis.  “Last week this was up to 165, and this week we hit 195 — and these are families, not individuals. And with the deepening unemployment situation, I’m afraid we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I fear that with the recent layoffs at Boeing we’ll see another big jump in demand.”

And it’s not just more customers.

Food banks are being squeezed in two directions, because it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to keep stocked with everything from canned goods to meats to pasta.

An important supply stream to food banks comes from local grocery stores that donate unsold stock and items approaching their pull date. But with many shoppers laying in supplies at home in response to COVID, there are simply fewer of these items.

“If you don’t see it on the store shelves, we don’t have it either,” explained Davis. “And in the interest of safety and keeping down the spread of COVID-19, we’re also playing it safe and no longer accepting individual food donations at Edmonds.”

A major source of food for all three is Food Lifeline, one of three organizations (the other two are Volunteers of America and Northwest Harvest) that secure and distribute food to food banks.  Formerly local food banks received supplies from all three, but in order to ensure a more even distribution of food items and better use of resources, the three recently agreed to divide up their service territories, with each concentrating on a specific region. As a result, Food Lifeline is now the sole distributor to South Snohomish County food banks.

“There’s no doubt that this a better, more equitable way to do it,” says Davis. “But with only one supplier, it means that we are getting less here in Edmonds than before the change, and this means we need more donations and to purchase more.

As if this weren’t creating enough of a challenge, food banks are finding themselves increasingly short-staffed as many volunteers are choosing to stay home.

“Our regular volunteers are predominantly seniors,” explained Alissa Jones, Lynnwood Food Bank director.  “Right now between 90 and 95 percent of our regular volunteers are staying home due to age and health.”

In response, Jones put out a call for help.

“The community has been great in responding to this,” she added.  “Many folks who are normally busy are finding they have extra time with the COVID situation.  Teachers, college students, even youth pastors have offered to help. I’m especially grateful to Lynnwood City Councilmembers Shannon Sessions and Julieta Altamirano-Crosby who, along with their families, have become regular volunteers. If you have time and want to help, we need you.”

This pattern is reflected at the Concern for Neighbors Food Bank in Mountlake Terrace.

“The volunteers 60 and older have dropped away since the COVID crisis hit, and our core volunteers are suddenly a bit younger,” explains director Mike Begeman. “These new volunteers are really stepping to the plate. We make an extra effort to work with our volunteers, hold regular meetings, solicit their feedback, and are taking extra efforts during this crisis to work as a team in following all distancing and sanitation guidelines religiously. As a result, everyone feels they have a stake in what we’re doing, they feel ownership and they feel safe.”

In keeping with social distancing guidelines, all three food banks have instituted systems whereby customers remain in cars and volunteers bring groceries to them.

At Concern for Neighbors, customers begin lining up in their cars on the regular Tuesday distribution day when volunteers bring out a standard selection of pre-bagged groceries. Customers remain in the cars, while volunteers put the bags in the trunk. If the trunk can’t be popped from inside the vehicle, the volunteer sets the bags next to the car and the customer gets out to do the loading.

Lynnwood runs a similar system, where customers line up ferry-line style. Volunteers communicate through the closed car windows to ask what the customer needs, and relay the shopping list by walkie-talkie to volunteers inside the food bank who collect the groceries, which are then brought out to the cars and placed in the trunk.

Especially innovative is the Edmonds Food Bank, which has instituted an online ordering system.

“It’s really important to me to give our customers choice and give them what they need,” explained Davis. “Every week we have different items depending on what is available. On Friday morning I look at what we have and enter them into our online ordering system. Customers can fill out their online order Friday night through Tuesday, and the system gives them a pickup time. Most customers come in cars, and queue up like a ferry line. Customers who don’t have a car can walk up, and those without internet access can fill out an order form in person on distribution day.”

Davis stresses that while preserving customer choice is important, the most critical concern right now is keeping customers and volunteers safe by strictly following all social distancing and sanitation guides to the letter.

While all three local food banks are rising to the challenges of fulfilling their mission in these difficult times, the extra strain on their resources mean that more than ever they need help from the communities they serve. Unlike Edmonds, Lynnwood and Concern for Neighbors are still accepting individual food donations — but the big need right now is cash.

“Many items we simply need to purchase — they don’t come to us in any other way,” Davis continued. “These include meat and dairy items, but also things like rice. Normally we’d buy a pallet of rice from Costco, but now Costco limits all customers — including food banks — to five containers of rice. And where normally many suppliers give us a price break, with the stress in the supply chain we’re now increasingly having to pay retail.”

At Concern for Neighbors, Begeman reports that the community is showing its support, but with an expected increase in demand of up to 50% in the coming weeks, the food bank need more.

“Mountlake Terrace and Brier have really stepped up with donations,” he says. “Right now we really need hygiene items, pet food (especially cat food), produce and dairy. We’re putting up our top 10 want list on the website, so people able to help can check there to see our current greatest needs.”

“Money is the perfect donation for us right now,” says Lynnwood’s Alissa Jones. “We’re having to spend more, especially on meat, eggs and dairy, and that takes cash.”

Jones has nothing but praise for the Lynnwood community and how they’re pitching in to help, but worries about dwindling stocks and increased demand.

“Lynnwood has been very supportive,” she says. “It’s a strong community, and a great place where people help each other. I feel lucky to be here. No matter what COVID throws our way, Lynnwood will rise to it.”

Story by Larry Vogel at Lynnwood Times

Increased need for volunteers at lynnwood food bank

lynnwood times

written by luke putvin

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the Lynnwood Food Bank is seeing a decrease of volunteers and an increase in those coming for help.

“This is a volunteer organization,” said Alissa Jones, Director of the Lynnwood Food Bank. “Right now, we are down about three quarters of our volunteers… Food is something that everyone needs. You can’t survive without it, and it’s not just important to have food, it’s important to have nutritious food.”

Jones mentioned that she has already seen an increase in those coming to the food bank. She has seen many new families, school bus drivers and others.

“The older I get, the more important it is to me that people in my own neighborhood are taken care of, and I think many people feel that way,” she said. “These are not strangers. These are families in our own school district. These are people in our community.”

The Lynnwood Food Bank needs help Monday through Friday with sorting, preparing, checking for food safety, packaging and other tasks. At this time, customers do not get out of their cars. Volunteers go to the car, get information on what is needed and then take that information to volunteers inside so they can fill a cart and put items directly in the trunk of the car.

Additional precautions at this time include extra cleanliness, sanitizing carts, wearing gloves, washing hands consistently and maintaining distance between volunteers when possible.

Luckily, there are those in the community that have heard the call to volunteer. Among the volunteers there on March 20 were city council members Shannon Sessions and Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, local resident Kelly Schorzman and Lynnwood Elementary School teacher Tom White.

Sessions said that people in the community have been reaching out to those who are healthy, willing and able to come out and help. A big reason there is such a sharp decline in volunteers is that seniors are normally a large population of those who volunteer. Sessions said that we need to be doing whatever we can to help keep seniors safe at this time.

“Volunteering has always been a priority in our family,” Sessions said. “It just shows, especially the kids who are out of school, a way to help others… I think especially in this time, when it is so easy to be self-centered and so easy to worry and panic about what’s happening in your own life, if you’re able to do something to take your eyes off of yourself and put them on someone else, it’s going to make you feel better and it’s going to help the community at large. It’s a win-win.”

“This is a crucial time and a difficult time where we have to reflect,” said Altamirano-Crosby. “We have to think about our community… I’m not comfortable to sit in my home and feel how privileged I am while outside there are a lot of people working. I am going to continue to keep coming here until they stop needing more volunteers.”

March 20 was Schorzman’s fifth day volunteering at the Lynnwood Food Bank. Schorzman lives in a clean and sober house, and it is a requirement to volunteer or work.

“I was in prison, and I’m trying to get back on track and do the next right thing,” Schorzman said. “Personally, the importance of volunteering is giving back to the community. I made a mistake in 2009. I actually work with at-risk youth, and it’s really the only way I can give back and do what’s right in the community.”

This was White’s second day at the food bank; he is a fourth grade teacher at Lynnwood Elementary School. “Since the school closure, obviously I had a lot of time on my hands, and I wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “There’s an increased need. A lot of people are out of work, and I felt very fortunate because, as teachers, we continue to get paid during the school closure. I felt like it would be nice if I did something to earn that salary during the closure.”

For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the Lynnwood Food Bank, visit

Partnering with Edmonds community college

In September 2018 Lynnwood Food Bank began a new partnership with Edmonds Community College to serve their students and staff that are food insecure.  We often hear comments about students living on ramen noodles and starving through their college years. Unfortunately, it is true and that is not okay.  A national average of 25% of community college students are very low food insecure and 20% of students at the university level also suffer from very low food insecurity.

Last Spring Edmonds Community College began a small food pantry and we began talks with them about how Lynnwood Food Bank can supplement their program. We agreed that the Food Bank would come on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month and bring not only canned and dry goods, but fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, eggs, frozen meat, and more.  

Our first visit to the campus we expected that we would serve approximately a dozen students, but we brought food for 25 students just in case.  About 20 minutes into the distribution we realized we needed to begin rationing the food and we ended up serving 72 students that day.  

Since then we have served between 75 and 100 students each visit, serving a wide range of people that need extra support as they make efforts and take steps to improve their futures.  Students need  proper nutrition to fuel their brains and their bodies and we are proud that we are making a difference in their lives.

partnering with Edmonds school district

Lynnwood Food Bank has partnered with Edmonds School District and Nourishing Network to provide services for the highest need families in the school district.  

Last Spring Nourishing Network opened a pilot program of a pop-up pantry to serve the McKinney-Vento families of one of the local schools.  The pilot went well, and discussions began with the local food banks on how we can support these programs as they grow from one school to one in each quadrant.

Lynnwood Food Bank is now providing extra canned/dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh breads and pastries, eggs, milk, meat and more to these families that need the extra support.   These children are already at risk as many of them are living in cars, on couches, and in shelters and without proper nutrition their risk increases. Lynnwood Food Bank believes that every person should  have access to nutritious food, we also believe that the whole family needs to be served, not just the student. But serving the student is important because they are growing and learning and without proper nutrition their bodies and their minds do not have the fuel they need to be successful.

We are happy to be working  with the local school advocates, Nourishing Network, and Edmonds School district to ensure that our children and their families are having their needs met.

Snowed In!  

Winter storms 2019

After two weeks of snow storms the Lynnwood Food Bank was snowed in. A few volunteers were able to join us, but only those that had all wheel drive. With the parking lot full of snow we knew that our customers would not be able to make it to the food bank for our Wednesday distribution.

We had already missed two weeks of picking up donations, Northwest Harvest, government commodities (TEFAP, EFAP), and Food Lifeline because we couldn't get our own vehicles out of the parking lot. A decision was made to postpone distribution for two days with a hope that somebody would plow our parking lot or the weather would remove the snow making the food bank accessible to both volunteers, customers, and donors.

KOMO news came out Tuesday night and reported from our parking lot that hundreds of families that utilize the food bank would not be able to get groceries because the parking lot was not accessible.  The story was repeated Wednesday morning, and then they came out to interview us and we were on the news again Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.  They also did a follow up story on Friday afternoon.

On Thursday morning we had a wonderful offer from a woman to pay for us to get our parking lot plowed.  We had previously requested quotes but had not received any responses. As a result I walked into TransBlue and asked them how much they would charge for plowing. They kindly offered to do it that afternoon for free.  Very grateful, I headed out into the community to pick up a donation. While out I heard from KOMO that New Dimension Lawn and Landscape had also offered to come plow our lot for free.

I returned to the Food Bank and that is when I found Shaun Leiser from  SCL Enterprises (General Contractor from Shoreline) and his two sons spending their snow day plowing our parking lot.

We are so grateful to Shaun as well as the kind folks that offered to help us. We were able to distribute groceries to our customers on Friday afternoon and get food into the homes of the people that needed it.

Follow the following links to see the coverage:



Lynnwood Food Banks Annual Turkey Trot 2018

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Annual Turkey Trot benefitting the Lynnwood Food Bank.  The total amount raised for the Food Bank was $2,468.  We'd also like to thank Edmonds Community College for hosting our fundraiser on their campus Thanksgiving Day.  

The day was fun and filled with smiles and laughter as people spent the beautiful morning preparing to run our 5K fundraiser. Everyone that began finished with a smile and a cheer from the crowd.  This year we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of rain and the sun shining brightly.

We hope that you'll join us next year in our Annual Turkey Trot 5k!

Lynnwood High School's

Annual Food Drive 2018

LHS TriM hosted their 7th annual food drive. Last Wednesday, on our day off before the Thanksgiving Holiday, 88 volunteers gave over 300 hours of their time soliciting donations from the community from 9AM-7PM in front of 7 local grocery and drug stores. We collected nearly 7,724 food items, and $3850 to benefit the Lynnwood Food Bank. 

Additionally we collected, 3100+ diapers, 700rolls of toilet paper, 500 additional personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste/brushes, razors, paper towels, soap, baby wipes…. etc.), which we will split between the Lynnwood Food Bank and the Adopt-a-Family event this month. 

Combined, this will equate to 17,787 cans for LHS’s Pursuit of the Power Plunger (PPP) total. PPP is an annual competition between LHS and rivals MTHS, including basketball, games and the food drive. 

Please congratulate the LHS TriM students. They were amazing in their generous, exceptional attitudes, the insane amount of work they accomplished (it’s a lot of work to collect, load, unload, sort and count this much food!) and professional and positive demeanor in representing Lynnwood HS in the community. This was completely facilitated by senior, TriM President, Amanda Dorgan. Her work since September was the key to our success. Her committee also included junior, Ruth Addisu. If you are lucky enough to know these young people, this isn’t surprising, as they represent everything that is great about LHS. 

We reached out to 25 stores to coordinate this. Without the support of the following stores, this event would not have been as successful. If you have the opportunity, please thank:

Trader Joes – Lynnwood (196th & Highway 99)
Fred Meyers –Lynnwood, Alderwood (Alderwood Mall Parkway & 164th)
Walmart Grocery – Lynnwood (172nd & Highway 99)
Walmart – Lynnwood (164th & 13th)
QFC – Mill Creek (Bothell Everett Highway & 164th)
Rite Aid – Mill Creek (164th & Bothell Everett Hwy)
Rite Aid – Alderwood (33rd Ave near Red Robin)

We are so proud of this event and the amazing impact it will have on the community for months to come. Watching our kids work together, excited about giving up their time, to play a part in something so big and important, is so rewarding to us. It was really overwhelming to see what a group of high school students can do in a single day, with a little support from a lot of people. If you see or any of the students listed below, please, recognize these students and congratulate them for their tremendous impact on their community.

Last June, the LHS TriM Club was awarded the 2018 National High School Heart of the Arts Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which is the national organization that WIAA is affiliated with. Over the last seven years the LHS TriM Club has donated nearly 120,000 “cans” of food and over $25,000 to the Lynnwood Food Bank!

Bravo to these civic minded music students!

Amy Stevenson & Phil Onishi
Lynnwood High School
Music Department

Thanksgiving Distribution 2018

This year we had 617 families pre-register for Thanksgiving Dinner groceries. We offer Thanksgiving separately because of the large number of families that need assistance and we want to ensure that each family receives a special meal that will help make Thanksgiving a memory that each family member will treasure. 

We served turkeys (we had chickens available for single households should they not want such a large bird), 10 pound bags of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, stuffing, miscellaneous holiday items, fresh carrots, fresh green beans, and finally apples and oats to make apple crisp.  Something new we did this year was offer a menu with recipes for all the items that they received for their holiday dinner.

We would like to thank the Lynnwood High School Key Club, the ______________ Club, students and parents from St. Thomas More, members of the community and regular volunteers of the Food Bank for giving their Saturday to serve our community.

Thank you for making this day a success and for helping our community build memories of special holidays.

van stolen from Lynnwood food bank

Lynnwood today 8/14/18

Update at 8:15 p.m.
The Lynnwood Food Bank’s van was recovered on Monday evening, after being reported stolen Monday morning.

After sharing the information on social media, it was discovered the suspects began the evening at Silver Creek Family Church, located at 5326 176th St. S.W. in Lynnwood. After breaking into locked areas, they took a key box that contained the key to the Lynnwood Food Bank’s front door and van. After they stole the van, they returned to Silver Creek Family Church and took the church’s safe, iPad and other items.

Community members later reported several sightings of the vehicle in the Queen Anne area of Seattle.

“We also received a phone call from a concerned citizen that saw the Food Bank van dumping garbage down a hill in Queen Anne, and in the garbage what appeared to be a microwave oven. We believe that the microwave oven may very well have be the Silver Creek Family Church safe,” said Alissa Jones, director of the Lynnwood Food Bank.

The food bank was contacted by Lynnwood Police at around 4:30 p.m. and was notified that the van had been located near Aurora Avenue and 125th Street. The van was towed by Lincoln Towing and was in drivable condition, according to Jones.

Since the front door key to the food bank was stolen, it has been re-keyed. Tri-City Locksmith performed the service for free.

Previous coverage from 1 p.m.:
The Lynnwood Food Bank is asking the local community to keep an eye out for its van.

The van was stolen from outside the Lynnwood Food Bank building at 5:45 a.m. Monday. According to the Lynnwood Police Department, the incident was captured on surveillance video. Two suspects removed crates from the van before driving away at around 6 a.m.

The van is marked with Lynnwood Food Bank signage. According to Alissa Jones, director of the food bank, the van is a white 1997 Chevrolet Express with Washington license plate B45897V.

“The theft of our van greatly impacts our program of serving supplemental groceries to our community,” Jones said. “We use the cargo van for our Grocery Rescue program, picking up donations from grocery stores six days per week. The Grocery Rescue program is a huge part of the Lynnwood Food Bank’s operations which fed 12,630 Lynnwood households and 39,053 Lynnwood individuals last year.”

The Grocery Rescue program is the source of most of the Lynnwood Food Bank’s fresh and frozen goods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, deli and meats.

Anyone who sees the van is asked to call 911 or contact the Lynnwood Police Department at 425-670-5600.

For additional coverage, check out the news report from KOMO and KIRO.

KOMO news

KIRO news

Lynnwood High School's Annual Tri-M Food Drive 2017

This holiday season the Tri-M Club at Lynnwood High School beat all previous year records collecting an amazing 8,753 pounds of food, 988 pounds of diapers and hygiene supplies, and $6,100 in financial donations for the Lynnwood Food Bank. We thank not just the Tri-M club, but all the students and faculty of Lynnwood High School for their efforts to the success of this food drive and for their support of our community.

Check out this video of their work:


turkey trot 2017

Lynnwood food bank's annual 5k

Thanksgiving day 2017 began with a crowd of runners; young, old, and even a few happy dogs. With 176 runners the morning was filled with fun and heavy breathing while raising funds for feeding our community.  We raised $3,240.15 and 342 pounds of food, but just as important we came together as a community and made a difference together. Every year the number of runners and the amount of money and food donated increases; we can't wait to see what happens next year!  Thank you to everyone that helped with this event from the volunteers to the runners and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Click here to see more photos of the Turkey Trot 2017.

Thank you to our sponsors: Zip Fizz, Whole Foods, PCC

Thank you to our helpers: Robert Burns Lodge, Lynnwood High School Key Club

Thank you to our event coordinator: Matthew Appel

Thanksgiving distribution 2017

Thanksgiving distribution took place on November 18, 2017 with the help of over ## volunteers. This year our volunteers were from (alphabetically) Hilltop Elementary, Lynnwood Food Bank volunteers and their family and friends, Lynnwood High School Key Club, Lynnwood Rotary Club, Meadowdale High School Key Club, and St.Thomas More School - they were all fantastic!  Each household was provided with a turkey, fresh potatoes, fresh onions, fresh sweet potatoes, fresh carrots, and a bag of canned and dry goods to finish the dinner in a traditional manner. We served XXX households (X,XXX individuals) with Thanksgiving dinner.  Thank you to all our volunteers, and all our donors that helped make this event a success in providing a holiday dinner for the families in our community. Happy Thanksgiving!

Lynnwood Food Bank’s Bread Man

We are sad to share that Gary Milner, the Lynnwood Food Bank’s ‘Bread Man’, has recently passed away.

Gary was a volunteer of the Lynnwood Food Bank for over 15 years working alongside his wife Vivian to serve our community. During the last few years, Gary spent three days a week volunteering for the Food Bank, driving our trucks, organizing our bread distribution, and repairing children’s toys to distribute to our youngest visitors of the Food Bank. In addition to dedicating numerous hours of his time and energy to the Food Bank Gary was also active in other organizations such as 4-H, Operation Christmas Child, the Tractor Club, Go-Karts, Train Club, AA, Square Dancing, Mission work, and his church. All these activities while still running his own business, Gary’s Lawn Service.

Not only do the staff and volunteers miss Gary’s sense of humor, work ethic, and his gruff expressions of love for people but his face is missed by our families as they have seen the ‘Bread Man’ at his station for over 15 years.

Personally I have truly enjoyed getting to know Gary over the last 1 ½ years that I have been at the Food Bank. Gary inspired me with his desire to always be better and do better. He also inspired so many with his dedication to helping others whether it be a stranger on the street, a friend in need, a child working on a go-kart, or serving a family at the Food Bank, Gary was always offering a hand up to those around him. I am thankful and a better person for having known Gary Milner, our ‘Bread Man’.

Everyone who knew him will truly miss Gary.

Lynnwood high school's annual tri-m food drive 2016

Every year Lynnwood High School's Tri-M club, which stands for "Modern Music Masters" a music honor society, collects food and hygiene products for the community. Lynnwood Food Bank thanks all the wonderful members of the LHS Tri-M club for all their hard work in raising over 6,000 pounds of food. Congratulations Tri-M on another successful food drive!

meadowdale high school student produces video

Enjoy this video produced by a local high school student in 2011 about the operations

of the Lynnwood Food Bank.

2011 Video