New U-District food bank partnership gives families access to food, affordable housing

Tonight a thousand more Seattle families have access to food- and dozens more have access to affordable housing.

SEATTLE — A new partnership in Seattle’s University District is tackling issues from all angles helping people get back on their feet.  That includes the new University District Food Bank which can serve double the 1,100 families per week it was limited to in its previous 800-square-foot space.

“In the past we've had to turn away donations because we didn't have refrigerator and freezer capacity,” said Executive Director Joe Gruber.  “Here we've tripled that.”


Content Continues Below


The food bank is holding its grand opening on August 17, but it’s been open to people in need for a month.  Michael Odell is one of the 90 to 100 volunteers that make it run.

“There's a couple deaf people that come in here and I know sign language so that helps, get to know them,” said Odell.  “So they appreciate it because they can ask questions.”

But this is much more than a food bank.  It's part of the University Commons partnership at 50th and Roosevelt which provides 49 apartments above the food bank through the Low Income Housing Institute.

One of the partners is Street Bean Espresso. In September they're opening this coffee shop right next to the food bank, and they'll be employing some of the 20 youth being housed in the low income housing up above.

“So they get an opportunity to work with a professional mentor and be in a work environment that sets expectations but teaches them how to meet those expectations,” said Gruber.  “So it sets them up for success and helps them look for that next pathway.”

The facility is right next to the University Public Library and volunteers from the library come to work with people at the food bank on resumes and job searches.

The new food bank is completely handicap accessible and has an urban farm on the roof to grow produce for the food bank.

And yes, they can always use more donations and volunteers.  Find more information here: