Anne Anderson is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award.

Anne Anderson is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award.

She ensures the Lake Stevens food bank is for everyone

Anne Anderson has turned a struggling organization into a powerful nonprofit.

This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award, which seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner will be named at an event on April 11. Meet the other finalists.

Name: Anne Anderson

Age: 36

Profession: Executive Director, Lake Stevens Community Food Bank

There’s a reason the Lake Stevens Community Food Bank doesn’t have income restrictions: Families at any level might find themselves unable to put food on the table.

No one plans to lose their job, said Anne Anderson, the food bank’s executive director.

Last year, the Lake Stevens food bank served more than 13,000 people, including domestic violence victims and parents who have to stay home to care for a sick child.

Anderson took the job as director in 2015 thinking it would be a 15-hour-a-week commitment.

“It turned out to be 80-plus hours a week,” Anderson said.

The nonprofit was looking for a little administrative help, Anderson said.

“Well, they needed more help than they knew,” she said.

Since then, Anderson has added cooking and gardening programs and extended the food bank’s reach with satellite locations.

Her enterprise hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Anderson has “worked incredibly hard to make a struggling food bank into a powerful nonprofit doing great work,” a nominator wrote.

Donations have increased to the point that the food bank is able to share its bounty with other food banks and nonprofits such as Cocoon House, Interfaith Family Shelter in Everett and Snohomish County Domestic Violence Services, Anderson said.

A few months after she became the food bank’s director, “we had a beautiful squash donation,” she said.

When Anderson asked clients why they weren’t loading up, she discovered no one knew how to cook it.

The response prompted her to begin offering cooking classes through the food bank.

“Some of our best guidance has come from those who receive food from us,” she said.

Anderson’s first fundraising experience began when she was 14 and centered around food.

“Skagit County grows a ton of food. And outside of Holland, it grows the most tulips, ” said Anderson, who grew up in Anacortes.

So it’s no surprise she volunteered to raise money for Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland. The nonprofit was seeking donations for colorful crop signs that would identify the local yield.

Anderson found that strange at first — she had always known which field was which.

“Why do you need a sign? Everyone knows what an asparagus field looks like. Purple flowers? That would be a potato field.”

She later realized that not everyone grows up on or near a farm.

Her fundraising efforts paid off and the markers went up.

“I don’t know how to make signs, but I do know how to make money,” she said with a laugh.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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