After two years of construction, Ballard Food Bank finally has a permanent home.
On Monday one of the city’s largest food banks opened a new “Hub for Hope” around the corner from the old blue building it rented for years on Leary Avenue. With half-vaulted high ceilings, orange accent poles and awnings, and double the square footage, it’s a more modern-looking space than its predecessor. The addition of more windows means more natural light, establishing a welcoming, inclusive environment. “The intention behind the building is to create a space of belonging, where everyone feels valued,” says executive director Jen Muzia. “This is a building for our community.”
That community has experienced greater food insecurity since the start of the pandemic. Pre-Covid, Ballard Food Bank averaged 3,200 deliveries and visits per month. Now that number is over 7,000. “We are seeing so many more new faces that are coming to visit the food bank for the first time,” says Muzia.
There they’ll find a smorgasbord of goods and services: a grocery store that is reminiscent of a mini PCC, a reimagined sandwich program at the Kindness Cafe, and a new resource hub with financial assistance programs and other resilience-building initiatives. The organization will also continue to work with public health officials to provide vaccination clinics for the flu and Covid.
Since its creation in the 1970s, Ballard Food Bank has strived to fulfill the ideal of neighbors helping neighbors. Its physical expansion fosters more opportunities to achieve that mission. “I want people to feel like they can come in and be treated with dignity and respect and [that] they can access something when it’s really hard to ask for help,” says Muzia. “This is a place where that can happen.”