Solidarity, not charity
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
In the Weekly’s most recent online issue, I wrote about how people could become “hunger heroes” for the Foothills Food Bank simply by donating $5-$15 per month to help the recently relocated nonprofit feed the approximately 200 households it makes nutritious food available to on a regular basis, as well as expanding its programs to include more weekly distribution points, nutrition and cooking classes, and community meals.
A few days ago, a Facebook post by the Community Food Co-op drew my attention to another Whatcom County food desert in need of immediate support, and the concerned neighbors and allies who have spent years working to ensure all residents of Bellingham’s Birchwood neighborhood have access to affordable, sustainable and culturally appropriate food.
Even before the pandemic drew stark attention to the disparity between people who don’t have the means to leave their own neighborhood on a regular basis to secure fresh and nutritious food and those who do, the Birchwood Food Desert Fighters were battling forces bigger than themselves to speak up for those who thought they didn’t have a voice. The need for action came about when Albertsons closed its doors in May of 2016, leaving behind a series of non-compete clauses meant to prevent another grocery store from going into one of the neighborhood’s only shopping centers until 2038—an unfathomable amount of time for those who were actively wanting to secure affordable food for themselves or their families.
Since the closure, BFDF has stepped up to the literal plate, hosting community food and supply shares, working to help build community gardens from the ground up, and reminding Albertsons and the City of Bellingham that feeding people shouldn’t have anything at all to do with corporate profits.
A GoFundMe campaign aiming to raise $5,000 to help the Birchwood Food Desert Fighters kicked in last week, and the ways donated funds will be used are numerous. Among the bullet points are repairs for five of the 10 community food boxes located throughout the neighborhood, hand sanitizer and bottles, food preservation supplies, gardening goods for the growing number of community plots, printing costs, building supplies for a community fridge project, ice for food coolers during the summer, food and supplies to distribute to the community, and packaging to hand out bulk foods.
For those who can’t contribute financially, volunteers are always being sought before, during and after the Saturday afternoon Food Shares, in the community gardens, and for other various tasks meant to alleviate the worry of those who may wonder where their next meal is coming from.
“Our work is centered around those who are most affected by this crisis,” organizers of the fundraiser say, “especially low-income people, deaf/disabled folks, families, farmworkers, immigrants and BIPOC. This is mutual aid work—solidarity, not charity.”
To contribute to the Birchwood Food Desert Fighters Fund, go to http://www.gofundme.com. For details about the Foothills Food Bank’s recent fundraising campaign, go to http://www.foothillsfoodbank.org.