BMAC, like many others, is scaling back where we can to maintain the health and safety of our community. We will continue to serve clients but we just need to do it a little differently and ask for your patience as we shift to an over the phone model. No client appointments will be conducted in person until further notice but we are here to serve you over the phone or via email. 

Our main phone line will be monitored during normal business hours, Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm and Friday 8:30 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. 

The following departments will operate over the phone until further notice: 

Energy Assistance
Homeless Assistance
Supportive Services For Veteran Families
Pro Bono Lawyer Referral
Home Weatherization/Minor Home Repair
Commitment 2 Community

The following departments are temporarily on hold until further notice:

Adult Literacy Tutoring
Job Training

Assistance Available In Person:

Food Assistance to low-income households is available at the BMAC Food Bank. Drive Through Mobile Food Banks will operate each Saturday from 11:00am-1:00pm at 921 W. Cherry St.

It's important to us that we can continue to get you the essential services you need. Please call our main number for, 509-529-4980 or email the following contacts to get your questions answered:

General Information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support for Veterans: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Homeless Support Services: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Energy Assistance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BMAC Housing Properties/Home Repair/Weatherization: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Food Assistance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pro Bono Lawyer Referral: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Donations or Outreach: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Questions for our CEO: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Greetings friends,

Like most people, businesses and organizations, we are evaluating and reacting to the ever-evolving COVID 19 public health crisis. At this time, we’re reviewing our dozen programs and assessing how we can continue to serve our clients, while keeping our staff safe. Prioritizing the safety and health of our community is a paramount concern.

Many of you have asked what you can do to support BMAC right now and for that, we are so grateful.

• If you are a client or volunteer and are not feeling well or have someone in your home who is sick, we ask that you please stay home.

• Because of our amazing community, the Food Bank has all the volunteers it needs for this moment and we’ll let you know if that need changes.

• The Food Bank will continue to accept food donations but we encourage people to do so only if you have a stockpile, but NOT if you would need to go to a store with already limited resources.

• If you’d like to donate, please visit We are asking you to consider a gift to our General Fund so that we can designate that money to the most critically important programs.

BMAC Operating Schedule for the Week of 3/16/20:

• Our lobby will be closed to the public beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th and we will be seeing clients on an appointment only basis Tuesday and Wednesday.

• Our original plans to close our current office and move to our new location at 8 E. Cherry St. will still take place on Thursday, 3/19 and Friday, 3/20.

• Our new building will open on an appointment only basis starting Monday, March 23rd.

As soon as it’s safe, we look forward to taking walk ins, welcoming you to our new building and operating business as usual. Our executive team will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement as we work hard to serve our nearby communities.

BMAC and regional growers cook up plans for food hub


Blue Mountain Action Council’s food bank could play a key role in a regional food hub.Facebo The Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank and a cluster of regional growers will begin separate efforts this year on what they eventually hope merges into a local food hub.

After 18 months of study made possible with a federal grant, the food hub concept that would get more fresh produce into local homes and also build new value-added products from locally farmed produce is taking shape.

A joint effort between BMAC and its food bank as well as about 10 regional organizations has led to a vision: expansion of the Cherry Street food bank to distribute more produce to clients and tie into a greater value-added project that kicks off with a pilot program of locally made salsa and hot sauce.

Details of the concept — including study findings — are being shared in a “Next Steps” meeting today at the Walla Walla Regional Airport conference room.

Arrowleaf Consulting, which led the study process, will present findings, feasible models, the value-added component and need for an education component, according to an announcement.

This is a step in a long process that formally kicked off September 2018 with the award of $133,566 to BMAC as part of the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program Grant.

The idea was to look at the needs of the area and explore where — from Dayton to Pendleton — a food hub would best serve the region. The shared goal was to better feed the public while also maximizing production of local farms, particularly with robust gleaning programs in place.

The process concluded that Walla Walla worked best as a central location and the expansion of the existing food bank spot as more feasible than a whole new operation.

Meanwhile, a cluster of growers — Frog Hollow Farm, Hayshaker Farm, Welcome Table Farm and Miles Away Farm — under the umbrella “Walla Walla Grown” will forge ahead seeking grants for a “proof of concept” small-production run of fresh salsa and fermented hot sauce.

If the ideas work, the eventual merger will bring together an expanded food bank that can process and distribute refrigerated foods beyond the shelf-stable offerings for which it’s most known, along with space for creation of the specialty foodline that can use the produce that would otherwise go to waste.

“In terms of how it pencils out, we don’t know yet,” said Jennifer Kleffner, owner of Miles Away Farm.

She said planning for the next cycle of grants will take place at the meeting. Walla Walla Grown is working on finding a rental space to start its small production run. The model is intended to maximize the use of produce while feeding more people and supporting farms all in one process.

“If you want to have a big impact, you have to meet people where they are,” she said.

Kleffner said the food bank would likely need to double in size for the joint operation.

Jeff Mathias, executive director of the BMAC Food Bank, said a request is in the works for $500,000 from the Legislature for capacity infrastructure grants. On a national level, a Farm to Food Bank program may be another resource to help move forward.

First though, BMAC will be on the move to its new headquarters on Second Avenue, Mathias said. The food bank will remain in its spot, but the move for BMAC is a primary focus at the moment.

He said starting small on each end will help lead to the longer-term vision.

“They’ll start small on their own and then hopefully — cross our fingers — we’ll meet back in a couple of years and be able to merge what they’re doing on their own and what the food bank’s doing,” Mathias said.

“We’ve got the same goals: more vegetables and produce in the community.”

Registration for today’s meeting is required and available by calling 509-524-5218. Information is also available through the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition site at

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 509-526-8321.

books going home

Published by Walla Walla Valley (WA) ACES Connection
By: Teri Barila

I was honored to be invited to a gathering of neighbors and friends in one of our neighborhoods as they came together to celebrate the holiday season. The traditional practice of the Posada opened the party, with neighbors walking door to door singing the traditional verses asking for shelter, with the neighbors responding, either denying shelter or offering their house, re-enacting Joseph and Mary seeking shelter. The last verse was sung at the location of the party, thus welcoming all in to the dinner meal. I had never experienced the Posada and was grateful for this traditional song and practice.

I was struck by the beauty of the song and by the underlying thought that if we see each other as the unique human we each are, in the diversity of our ideas, values, skin color, gender identity and "neurodiversity" of all being normal differently, according to our lived experiences, that indeed we would welcome each other in to community more readily and with greater authenticity and heart! 

The meal was rich in its variety of offerings too. For me, I learned a new traditional "apple cider" mix of apples, pineapple, guava, tamarind and cinnamon cooked together, sweetened, and served hot, called ponche. It was delicious!

It was an especially joyful moment to be together in community. Children had fun staging photos of themselves as elves (we did too!) and receiving a book from Santa (retired Sheriff office Jim Romine), to take home. Thank you, Commitment to Community outreach organizer Ursula (Delia and Amanda too) for your capacity building and engagement work. 

Story from Great Northwest Wine
 on December 23, 2019

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – It began in 2011 as a modest $2,000 fundraiser spearheaded by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, yet this year’s Barrel Full of Money reached impressive new heights when the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank received a check for $55,716.82.

During the nine years since its inception by the late Duane Wollmuth, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance has helped raise more than $220,000 via the Barrel Full of Money campaign.

“Generous support from the wine community, local businesses and individuals has propelled the Barrel Full of Money campaign to a 40% growth over last year,” Jeff Mathias, director of the BMAC Food Bank, stated in a news release. “The money raised in this effort will provide over 250,000 meals for our neighbors in need.”

More than 70 wineries, the Blue Mountain Action Council and Walla Walla Valley businesses and sponsor organizations took part in the effort that culminated in the steering committee’s presentation at the food bank on Thursday, Dec. 19. They include Alaska Airlines, Baker Boyer Bank, Big House Brewpub, Columbia REA, Dunham Cellars, Elkhorn Media Group, Grocery Outlet, Hayden Homes, Maple Counter Café, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Rogue Lobster, Seguin Moreau, The Thief Fine Wine & Beer, TMACS, Valdemar Estates, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance member wineries.

“This effort truly exemplifies the collaborative heart of the people throughout our community. We look forward to the continued collaboration and success of Barrel Full of Money and BMAC for years to come,” said Shelby Pryor, committee chair for Barrel Full of Money and marketing assistant for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

Barrel Full of Money came with Wollmuth’s first year 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" style="max-width: 98%; height: auto; margin: 0px; padding: 2px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; border-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); vertical-align: baseline;">Gilles Nicault, left, winemaker for Long Shadows Vintners, shares a moment at his Frenchtown Road tasting room in 2013 with the late Duane Wollmuth. (Richard Duval Images)Barrel Full of Money is a project Wollmuth helped spark during his first year as executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. The former cell phone industry executive launched Three Rivers Winery west of Walla Walla in 1999. Wollmuth died in 2016 when he suffered a heart attack at his home. He was 60.

The BMAC Food Bank now distributes about 928,000 pounds of food through pantries in Walla Walla County each year. According to, a food bank can turn a $1 cash donation into as many as 10 meals. That means the 2019 Barrel Full of Money program could lead to more than 550,000 meals in southeastern Washington.

The two-month Barrel Full of Money campaign began with a tasting at The Thief Fine Wine & Beer and included a raffle with grand prizes of two unrestricted roundtrip tickets by Alaska Airlines and a one-night stay and dining at the Marcus Whitman Hotel.

Donation canisters — full-sized wine barrels — were featured at Walla Walla Valley wineries and businesses, and tasting fee donations came via wineries. Dunham Cellars staged an auction and wine reception. Grocery Outlet provided shoppers the ability to “round up” or add a donation to their purchase. And there also were cash donations from Walla Walla Valley businesses and residents.

Next year, Barrel Full of Money will celebrate its 10th campaign. Fundraising officially kicks off in October, includes the Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend on Dec. 4-6, and concludes with the Auction & Wine Reception on Thursday, Dec. 10 at Dunham Cellars.

The Blue Mountain Action Council is a community action partnership agency providing a wide array of services to help people meet their basic essential needs. The BMAC food bank is the regional distribution center for the five food pantries in Walla Walla County as well as the pantries in Columbia, Asotin and Garfield counties. More information about the BMAC Food Bank and its programs also is available by calling 509-529-4980.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a nonprofit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s American Viticultural Area. The wine alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the valley’s wine industry.


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