2022-23 Program Year End Totals

This school year was another huge year of growth for our organization and specifically for our
Food Backpack Program. It marks the completion of 5 years of feeding kids on the weekends.
We have seen this program grow from 352 kiddos in June of 2021, to 468 last June, to 755
this month, a 61% increase year over year, and 115% growth in the past 24 months.
We have grown from 12,650 bags distributed to kids last year, to 22,000 this year.
Cumulatively, this program has now provided over 50,000 bags of food in total, 300,000
weekend meals and over a quarter million snacks
. Amazingly, this has all been done with
volunteers and a part-time employee.

This year’s growth is attributed to several factors. First, the board voted to spend savings in
order to meet the increasing need. This allowed us to see the actual depth of the need as we
were able to say “Yes” to every school who asked for help. Secondly, elementary schools in
Bellingham embraced our program to a level we have not seen prior, going from 2 elementary
schools in past years to 7 participating schools this year in Bellingham alone, including
Birchwood, Alderwood and Cordata Elementary; schools with some of the highest levels of
poverty in the county. We also expanded to add schools in Lummi and Lynden (partnering with
Backpack Buddies) this year, and now serve 21 schools, up from 15 in 2022. Lastly, inflation
and specifically the increase of the cost of groceries, put a strain on families to a level we have
not seen for years.

A snapshot of the program shows who we serve currently:

● 366 kids, 48.5% of our program (vs 10% in 2021) in Bellingham School District,
● 242 kids 32% (vs 71% in 2021) in Mt Baker SD,
● 55 kids 7% (vs 11% in 2021) in Blaine
● 25 kids each in Ferndale and Lummi and
● 21 kids in Lynden

We continue to partner with the Blaine Food Bank who provides us with 100% of the food for the students we serve in the 4 schools in Blaine. With weekly donations from the Blaine Food Bank, and a thrifty, generous manager from Grocery Outlet, we were able to reduce the cost of each bag of food from $5.50 per bag to $3.50. This is allowing us to stretch each donated dollar even further.

Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church and the Blaine School District each still provide us with free space for storage and for assembly. Our operation is lean, with no office space, no vehicles, and only one part time employee. We depend heavily on volunteers from the community, and 20-25 people volunteer 2 hours each week to assemble and deliver the food bags, for a total of 1,500 volunteer hours each year.

Our board remains fiercely committed to the belief that kids shouldn’t go hungry and personally
contributed almost 30% of our food budget last year. In addition to the generous support we received from the Eleanor & Henry Jansen Foundation ($10k), we also received support from Jerry H Walton Foundation ($7k), Kiwanis PNW ($5k), 25 Kiwanians who Care ($3,200), Women Sharing Hope ($5,500), All American Marine ($2,740), WAFED ($2,500), Semiahmoo Ladies Golf ($2,100), Bellingham Rotary ($1k), WECU, Ferndale Firefighters, Passport Rotary, and many individual donors. This year we will add several additional fundraisers and continue to focus on building a robust group of monthly donors to provide us with a consistent base of income as a foundation of support moving forward.

Wild Bird is filling a significant gap in services in this county which continues to grow with the rising cost of food, and as more schools discover us to be a consistent resource. In regards to metrics and outcomes, we know from several studies that children who eat well perform much better in school than children who are hungry, but we also believe that no child should experience food insecurity, simply for moral and ethical reasons. There are still schools within our reach that are left unserved, and a challenge for us to make this program sustainable financially. Our board is meeting next month to strategize a way ahead. I am honored to serve this organization and the community in this role, and am excited about the future for Wild Bird, founded in 2016, and continuing to flesh out what this nonprofit will look like in both the near and distant future.

~Mark Moder
Executive Director
June 2023