Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day at the Delaware State Fair

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

On Monday Food Bank of Delaware staff members headed to the Delaware State Fair for the third annual Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day! It’s one of my favorite days of the year at the Food Bank. Attendees who brought five Food Lion store brand cans received one free gate admission! As fairgoers filtered in from the parking lots, so many hands were filled with plastic bags loaded with canned goods!

One-by-one, volunteers from Food Lion and the Food Bank of Delaware, emptied bags of canned goods into large tote-sized boxes. By 11:00 a.m. we had already collected close to 2,000 pounds of food! The response from our community was truly amazing. We are happy to report that in just one day we collected 21,865 pounds – 933 pounds more than last year!

In addition to greeting fairgoers, we also had an opportunity to enjoy all that the fair has to offer! New this year, three Food Bank of Delaware staff members presented healthy cooking demonstrations throughout the day!

First up was Alina Wade, our Community Nutrition Educator. As Alina wired her lavalier microphone and organized her ingredients, a small crowd started to gather around the demonstration kitchen. At 11 a.m. it was show time! Alina demonstrated how easy it is to make healthy oatmeal blueberry pancakes. She combined bananas, oatmeal, egg whites, honey, cinnamon and blueberries in the blender. Once everything was blended, it was time to pour the batter out on the griddle. A few minutes later the pancakes were ready! The healthy pancakes received rave reviews from attendees!

While we waited for Tim Hunter, our Chef Instructor at The Culinary School at the Milford Branch, to demonstrate how to make a cool cucumber mango soup, we enjoyed a Kimo’s snow cone, Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson’s interview with television station WMDT 47 and more can collecting!

The clock hit 1:00 p.m. and we were ready for Chef Tim’s cooking demonstration. Tim peeled and cut fresh mangos, red onions and cucumbers. Showing off his skills, Chef Tim amazed the audience with his knife skills! After everything was chopped he used an immersion blender to incorporate all of the ingredients. Tim showed how easy it is to make healthy, homemade soups. In no time, the cucumber mango soup was ready for sampling!

While we waited for Community Nutrition Educator Asia Thurston’s 3:00 p.m. demonstration, how to make a “Delaware Summer Salad,” we dined at the Delaware Farm Bureau stand, had another snow cone :) and collected more cans! As the afternoon progressed, more attendees began to filter in with donations!

When 3:00 p.m. rolled around, we were ready for Asia’s demonstration. She made a beautful Delaware Summer Salad consisting of fresh, local kale, spinach, strawberries, clementine oranges, almonds, goat cheese, chicken and a homemade strawberry vinaigrette. Asia showed audience members how easy it is to eat fresh, healthy foods! In addition, she stressed that we should be eating the colors of the rainbow. She clarified that by rainbow she did not mean skittles! Eating healthy foods of all different colors enables our bodies to get the needed nutrients.

After Asia’s demonstration it was almost time to leave the fair. Before we left, Food Bank of Delaware Operations Director Trevor Turner, tried his luck at the fish bowl game. After throwing almost 20 ping-pong balls, Trevor landed one in a small fish bowl! He won a gold fish and named him Franklin Turner.

We had a great day at the State Fair; in addition to collecting much-needed food for residents of Kent and Sussex Counties, we also showed fairgoers that we do more than just collect food, we also empower Delawareans by providing important educational opportunities about healthy eating on a limited budget and workforce development through the culinary arts.

Check out some more pictures from our day at the Delaware State Fair!





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A visit to our nation’s capital to advocate for the Summer Food Service Program

By Charlotte McGarry, Programs Director

Wow! What an amazing day! Yesterday I had the honor and privilege to speak before Senate staff at a briefing to educate lawmakers about the Summer Food Service Program. This educational opportunity was important as lawmakers begin to discuss the Summer Meals Act of 2014. As I departed the Wilmington train station en route to our nation’s capital, I was feeling excited, but extremely nervous. This was my first time speaking to national leaders about a program that helps so many children in our country during the summer months.

Feeding America and Share Our Strength invited the Food Bank of Delaware to speak given our long history and success with the program. Since 2002, we, along with our partners and volunteers, have provided millions of meals to children at risk of hunger in our state.

During my 10-minute talk I spoke about the need, challenges and successes of the program from the perspective of a sponsor. As a sponsor,  we are responsible for locating and recruiting meal sites, hiring, training and supervising staff and volunteers, arranging meal preparation and delivery, monitoring sites, and preparing claims for meal cost reimbursement from USDA.

Yesterday’s presentation was intended to show members of Congress that it’s time to make adjustments to Summer Food Service Program processes developed in the 60s and 70s.  As we all know, families’ needs and dynamics have significantly changed since then. It’s time to change the processes in which we serve children summer meals.

In Delaware only 20 percent of children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school participate in the Summer Food Service Program. Participation is not only low in Delaware, but on a national level. Lack of transportation and general awareness are two major barriers that hinder participation.

In order to reach more children, USDA has funded several demonstration grants to try alternative ways to provide meals. The Food Bank of Delaware, along with the Delaware Department of Education successfully managed one of these projects.

The Grab and Go alternative service method was so successful that we were able receive three years of generous funding from Our Family Foundation.  During this second year of private funding and fourth year of the program our staff is faced with the sad truth that the need for this style of meal service outweighs the funds.

We urge Congress to support their constituents by instituting the changes necessary for children throughout our nation to have the opportunity to participate in Grab and Go and other innovative meal delivery programs.

To learn more about the Summer Meals Act of 2014, please click here.

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Monday is Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day at the Delaware State Fair

State FairThe third annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” will take place on Monday, July 21 at the Delaware State Fair!

Fair attendees who bring five Food Lion brand canned goods will in exchange receive one free gate admittance to the Delaware State Fair from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Monday, July 21. The community effort is part of the third annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” at the Delaware State Fair.

“At Food Lion, we believe no one should have to choose between dinner and paying rent or gasoline and buying groceries,” said Bob Mills, Food Lion director of execution and implementation for the Dover, Del. area. “That’s why we’re so passionate about our renewed focus on ending hunger and working to make the lines shorter at local feeding agencies through Food Lion Feeds. Last year’s hunger relief day helped to provide approximately 17,000 meals for hungry families in Kent and Sussex Counties, and we hope to exceed that donation this year with the help of our customers.”

Donations received through this year’s effort will assist families in Kent and Sussex Counties struggling to put food on the table.

“We are thrilled to continue this partnership with Food Lion and the Delaware State Fair,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “It was incredible to see the excitement from our community for this annual food drive. Over the past two years we have collected more than 42,000 meals. We hope to exceed last year’s total!”

“Our goal this year is to pass last year’s amazing number and hopefully bring in more than 27,000 meals. This is such an amazing project to be a part of and we thank Food Lion for making this food drive possible through its partnership with the Delaware State Fair,” said Assistant General Manager and Director of Marketing Danny Aguilar

Volunteers from Food Lion and the Food Bank of Delaware will accept donations at all gates. No items stored in glass will be accepted. Some of the Food Bank of Delaware’s most-needed items include the following:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Tuna fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats
  • Cereal

For more information about the Delaware State Fair, please visit

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Grab and Go Spotlight: Sparrow Run

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

Hunger in our community is prevalent, especially during the summer months when school is not in session. For thousands of Delaware kids, meals served at school are sometimes their only source of nutritious food. Now that the school year is over, so are these meals. Fortunately, Giant Food has sponsored our Grab and Go summer meal program that allows children to pick up their meals and take them home to enjoy.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit Sparrow Run, a neighborhood in Bear. Child Inc. runs the Sparrow Run Grab and Go program and provides services to at-risk children and their families.

CHILD Inc. Program Manager Victoria Schetrom organizes the meal program at Sparrow Run. She says she is known as the “lunch lady” of the neighborhood!

One-hundred-eighty-four kids pick up breakfast and lunch each weekday between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The kids love the Grab and Go format because they are able to eat their lunch at home versus sitting at the community center’s outdoor picnic table. (As you can imagine, some days are just simply too hot for an outside meal!)

When we visited Sparrow Run both kids and their parents were lined up to pick up their meals. A reusable insulated bag was provided by the Food Bank at the beginning of the program, and each day, kids return with their bag to receive their next round of meals. Coolers line Child Inc.’s driveway and a dedicated youth volunteer and a Child Inc. employee distribute the meals, a breakfast and lunch for each participant.

Just by looking at the faces of the kids, I could tell they love picking up their Grab and Go meals. In addition to distributing meals, Child Inc. also provides a great environment for families of Sparrow Run and surrounding communities on Route 40 in Bear.

Thank you, Giant, for making the Grab and Go meal program possible!

To learn how we are serving the needs of children this summer, please visit




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Culinary Student Spotlight: Sean Shaver

071414_TCS at Verdi photo (2)For Sean Shaver, a Food Bank of Delaware Culinary School student, an internship at Verde –The Italian Cooking School in Milford, is a match made in heaven.

Nancy Chirdon Forster, Verde’s founder and owner, agrees.

A restaurateur and caterer, Nancy says she supports the mission of the Food Bank of Delaware.

“I believe in its value to the community, and it’s well run,” she said.

When The Culinary School opened at the Milford site in September, Nancy knew she would want to partner by providing internship opportunities.

While Verde is a cooking school, it’s not a training institution like The Culinary School; Verde offers cooking lessons, catering and private dinners, luncheons and classes.

“We participate in the Lewes Farmers’ Market, and we want to be part of Milford’s,” said Nancy, adding that as a one-woman business it was impossible to be at both markets at the same time each Saturday morning.

Enter Sean, who was busy making cookie dough for the next Saturday’s market.

“He’s developing an interest in everything. He’s caught that food bug,” said Nancy.

Because this is a small business, Sean is learning by doing. For example, on his first day Sean helped prepare a luncheon for 22 guests, a full house in the space Verde occupies on South West Front Street.

“I’m so happy to have Sean. I just tell him to yell if he’s drowning,” Nancy said, noting that his help will open up more options for her business and for other students as well.

A Milford resident, Sean is equally enthusiastic about the internship. A retail manager for 12 years, he welcomes the career change that combines his love for cooking with an opportunity to learn and grow.

Even as a youngster, Sean remembers watching public television cooking shows.

“Justin Wilson (Cajun chef on PBS) sucked me in, not just the cooking but the stories, and Miss Nancy (Verde’s owner) has stories,” he said.

Sean learned about The Culinary School from a flyer and felt “the timing was right.”

“I’m learning as I go. Chef Tim (Hunter, Chef Instructor) and Brenda (Palomo, Culinary Training Program Manager) have you prepared to jump into the fire. The whole staff, the curriculum, everything is excellent,” he said.

Chef Tim and Brenda also praised the way Sean has embraced the opportunity to move into a career in food service.

“Sean has a unique combination of culinary skill and a positive attitude that is extremely hard to find. I know he will continue to grow in the culinary field as he learns more, but you cannot teach anyone how to remain positive under pressure. You cannot teach how to have a sense of urgency, and Sean has that,” Brenda said.

Chef Tim said the internship at Verde seems like a great match.

“Sean is one of those guys who has the potential to be a good leader if he has the right guidance. It’s good to start out small. He’ll eventually get confidence to take on responsibilities,” he said.

Sean plans to stay on at Verde after he graduates on Aug. 5.

“I’m here, and I’m going to do what I can to help Miss Nancy grow her business,” he said.

The Culinary School program lasts a total of 14 weeks, 12 of which are spent on site at the food bank learning the basics, including but not limited to meat fabrication, cooking techniques, and soups and sauces, and studying for the ServSafe exam, as well as brushing up on Life Skills curriculum.

The next class in Milford begins on Aug. 18.

Learn more by visiting

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Growing Fresh Produce at Penn Farm

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern


As we all know, fruits and vegetables are a very important part of our daily diet. Unfortunately, for many families across the state, accessing produce proves to be difficult. Thanks to our partnership with Penn Farm and other local farmers, that will hopefully change.

According to Delaware Greenway’s website, “the Historic Penn Farm is a 310 year old, 112-acre private urban land trust of the Trustees of the New Castle Common, managed by Delaware Greenways, Inc.”

In addition to the plot of land tended by volunteers and staff from the Food Bank, William Penn High School students also have a plot of land that they tend to.

According to Dan Reyes, Coalition to End Hunger Coordinator here at the Food Bank, the main goal of Penn Farm is to “improve and increase role of produce in distribution.” He adds that the Food Bank is working to create dynamic, sustainable partnerships with food pantries in the area by donating fresh produce grown on the farm.

Operations at Penn Farm are currently in their first year. The farm is modeled after a program at the Chester County Food Bank, where their main focus is getting fresh produce out into the community.

Our plot of land consists of many different types of produce, including cabbage, kale, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, beets, watermelon and cucumbers. All of the work is done by a team of volunteers and our Agriculture Intern, Sara Somers. Last week alone, volunteers harvested 125 pounds of cabbage and kale. Peppers will be ready next for harvesting.


The produce grown at Penn Farm is helping us gain experience in storing our own produce, as well as providing Delawareans in need the opportunity to receive fresh, locally-grown produce. This farm helps us, as well as community members, think about hunger on a larger scale and how it is connected with farming and agriculture. Concepts like Penn Farm and community produce donations

really do help in improving the healthy diets of those in need.

To view volunteer opportunities at Penn Farm, please click here, to learn more about donating produce, please click here.049058

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Partner Spotlight: Zion Lutheran Church

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

As the Communications Intern for the Food Bank of Delaware, my boss and I take field trips every sooften so I can see the different aspects of how the Food Bank of Delaware works and serves our community. On Tuesday, Kim and I visited the food pantry at Zion Lutheran Church in Wilmington. Zion’s food pantry is operated by our partner,Lutheran Community Services.

The food pantry is a well-oiled machine run by Minnie McGuire.  As the coordinator, she manages the back office, the kitchen pantry and the client interactions. When I arrived, they were in the midst of distribution. I first met Minnie and Sandy Betley, Programs Director for Lutheran Community Services.

Minnie says Zion serves people of all different backgrounds. Many are seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Volunteer Anne assists Minnie in the office by taking phone calls from referring agencies, managing the incoming paperwork, and keeping track of the clients served.

Anne has been volunteering with the food pantry for more than 10 years and remembers shopping at the local grocery store in order to stock the shelves of the pantry. Thanks to Zion’s partnership with Lutheran Community Services at the Food Bank of Delaware, they are able to use the resources of both agencies to make sure their clients’ needs are met.


“I do it because I think I am helping people,” she says.

After learning more about how Zion handles paperwork, we proceeded to the kitchen where I met Richard, who was the only volunteer available to pack bags full of household food staples. Richard and his wife utilize food assistance services, and he told me that he loves volunteering at the Zion Food Pantry. He said, “After all they’ve done for me, this is how I can give back.”

From my visit, I learned that each food closet of the Food Bank of Delaware operates differently. Some pantries provide pre-packed bags or boxes, while others provide families with the opportunity to choose from a variety of items.

At Zion, clients must sign in upon arrival. Clients are referred to Zion from local organizations
and state agencies. Referral papers are organized in the office and then brought back to the kitchen, where bags are stocked with the required groceries that meet the clients’ needs. Their food is delivered to them in the main lobby, and their name is checked off in the book after they sign a release form that they have received their food.

While in the waiting area for the clients, Kim and I encountered a young woman named Lisa, and she told us her story. Lisa is a single mother of three children. Unfortunately, her children’s father does not help to support the kids.  She has been in and out of school, trying to complete a degree in psychology, while supporting her children. Lisa also told us that the summer is the most difficult time for affording food, because her children are home and out of school. Providing two extra meals each day during the summer adds an extra expense to her household budget.

“My job is to stress out,” she explains.  “My kids’ job is to go out and get a good education and live a better life than I do. I do the struggle for them
, by walking to the food pantry.”

Lisa says there have been times when she has skipped meals in order to provide her children a full nutritious meal.

Visiting the Zion Food Pantry in Wilmington was a very enlightening experience and shows the important role the Food Bank of Delaware and its network of partners play in the community.

If you are in need of emergency food assistance or know someone in need, please dial 2-1-1 for Delaware 2-1-1. They will refer callers to a local organization that can assist.



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