Partner Spotlight: Casa San Francisco

0416_Casa blog photoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Casa San Francisco, a 10-bed shelter for homeless people in Milton, provides services for the community as well as those who need a place to stay for 30 days.

And in today’s economy, the need is great, according to Melinda Woolf, program manager.

Catholic Charities operates the shelter and programs out of the renovated house on Mulberry Street. While there are plans to build a new facility, the staff is proud of the work that happens inside and out of cramped quarters.

Melinda says the five men and five women who reside there are expected to be seeking work during the day, but are offered a nutrition program in the evening.

Casa San Francisco, though, is much more than a shelter in that it serves as a site for multiple food distribution programs, including emergency food distribution reaching hungry seniors and families.

It’s a common misconception that the Food Bank provides emergency food directly to clients, but the Food Bank of Delaware actually connects to the community through hunger-relief partners, such as Casa San Francisco.

Partners, like Casa, send authorized representatives to pick up food from the Food Bank’s warehouse for distribution in order to meet client needs.

Since a federal cut in SNAP benefits went into effect in November, Melinda reports a sharp increase in the amount of requests for emergency food.

Prior to November, the staff distributed emergency food bags to an average of 40 households each month; that number has risen to 75 households getting a bag containing about 25 pounds in staples.

Casa San Francisco also distributes food through the HOPE program; HOPE is an acronym for Helping Other People Endure.

Melinda said HOPE serves eight locations, mostly seniors, around Sussex County, not only providing bags of staples but also nutritional and budgeting information presented in workshops.

“We are definitely volunteer driven,” she said.


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Filed under Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Poverty

Smart Choices from the Start

IMG_7014As a woman entered the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinic at Wilmington’s Northeast State Service Center, she was greeted with the smells of a stovetop fritatta.

“It smells so good in here,” she remarked.

She checked in with the clinic’s receptionist and took a seat in the waiting room with a few other clinic visitors.

It was their lucky day, as Amanda Good, our WIC Food Demonstration Specialist, was visiting with her portable kitchen. As part of our new Smart Choices from the Start program, Amanda visits several clinics each week showing new ways to prepare dishes using foods that WIC participants can purchase using their food voucher.

Three little girls gathered around Amanda’s portable kitchen as she explained carefully each step neIMG_7002cessary in order to mIMG_7003ake a perfect stovetop fritatta. She opened a bag of fresh spinach and added it to her skillet. As the spinach cooked, Amanda cracked nine eggs and slightly beat them with a fork; she diced a small onion and one tomato. She took a few pieces of thick deli ham and cut it into two-inch slices.

A mirror is attached to the top of the portable kitchen to ensure that participants can see what’s happening – right from the comfort of their seats!

As she worked to get all of the ingredients prepped, her younger audience members talked back and forth.

“I love salad,” said one. “I wear glasses,” said another. “I watch people cook, so I can cook when I’m older.” IMG_7007

After everything was chopped, Amanda added the rest of the ingredients to the eggs, including a cup of grated cheddar cheese, and poured the mixture over the cooked spinach.

IMG_7011More guests walked into the clinic. As they took a seat, Amanda encouraged them to fill out a quick survey; as a token of her appreciation, they would each receive a recipe book, apron and oven mitt. (The survey asks questions about at-home meal preparation frequency, foods used with the WIC voucher, food frequence (how many times a month certain foods are eaten) and more.)

Ten minutes later the stovetop frittata was ready! Amanda cut it up into sample sizes and distributed to the group to try.

It was unanimous – the fritatta was a winner!

“Mmm, it’s good, mommy,” said one of the little girls.  IMG_7016

Amanda explained some of the health benefits of the dish, especially the spinach. Did you know that spinach is a great source of folic acid for pregnant moms? And the addition of deli meat is not harmful to pregnant women if the meat is cooked. Uncooked deli meat is not good for pregnant women due to listeria concerns.

The ladies visiting the WIC clinic were thankful for Amanda’s knowledge and said they planned to make the fritatta at home.

It was time for the little girls to leave with their mom, and as they left, they gave Amanda a “thumbs up!”

To date Amanda has hosted 42 statewide demonstrations with a total of 272 participants! Response from participants has been positive for the five recipes demonstrated to date! Participants have enjoyed peanut butter and banana french toast, Minnesota Northwoods white chili, tuna and black bean quesadillas, stovetop fritatta and sweet potato and black bean chili! Next month’s recipe is black bean and egg burritos!

To learn more about Smart Choices from the Start, please visit click here!

Want to make the stovetop frittata at home? Here’s the recipe!

Cooking spray
Fresh baby spinach (10 oz. bag)
9 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz. deli ham, cut into 2-inch slices
1 small onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced

1. Cook the spinach and 1 tablespoon of water in a large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
2. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over spinach. Don’t stir.
3. Cover and cook 10 minutes until the center is set.

Total cost per serving using WIC voucher for ingredients: $0.36; total cost per seriving of purchased food: $3.01

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Two Newark culinary students participate in annual men’s cook off

It’s been a great week for students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. Tuesday we celebrated the accomplishments of six graduates from The Culinary School at the Milford Branch, and last Saturday, two lucky Culinary students from Newark, Andrew Morley and Nelson Velazquez, had the opportunity to participate in the Union Lodge #21 annual men’s cook off at the New Castle Moose Lodge. The event was sponsored by Basil Restaurant, Desserts by Dana and Ubon Thai Cuisine.

More than 150 guests enjoyed tasting samples from local professional and amateur chefs. Nelson and Andrew were thankful for the opportunity to participate.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Andrew. “Each chef was required to prepare 100 samples of their dish. That was by far the most interesting part, as I’ve never made food for 100 people. It was a great experience.”

Andrew made meatloaf sliders. He cooked six meatloaves, cut them into slider size pieces and added a spicy chipotle ketchup. His dish got rave reviews from attendees.

“My favorite part of the night was meeting other chefs and seeing how they prepare the food and how they present it,” he explained. “I am just a student; there were a lot of professional chefs there and to see how well they ran things and how well they were prepared – I was just flying by the seat of my pants!”

Nelson prepared mini beef empanadas for guests.

“I’m glad everyone liked my food,” he said. “All these people were coming back for seconds. It made me feel proud of what I was putting out there for them.”

Nelson says the networking opportunities at the event were invaluable.

“I got  a lot of compliments, so I was really happy about that,” he said. “It made me feel that my food is worthy. I was just glad for the experience and being able to put my product out there and people liking it.”

Proceeds from the evening benefitted the Union Square Foundation, the 501(c)3 charitable arm of Union Lodge #21.

Check out some photos from the evening!

IMG_20140412_211102_587 IMG_20140412_215410_801 MooseLodgeCookoff

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Food Bank of Delaware celebrates second Milford culinary class graduation

GraduatesSix members of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated their achievements today during a graduation ceremony for the second class at the Food Bank’s Milford facility.

Guest speaker for the occasion was Chef Jay Caputo, owner of The Jay Caputo Restaurant Group in the Delaware resort region. His restaurants include Espuma in Rehoboth Beach and Rose & Crown in Lewes.

“I’m proud to be associated with the food bank and the culinary program headed by Chef Tim and Brenda,” said Caputo. “To know that the students are getting a chance to better their lives through donations, grants, and the support of our community just reiterates the family connection we have here in Delaware.”

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter and the guidance of Brenda Palomo, Culinary School program manager, the students spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, the students prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

Chef Hunter was pleased with this class.

“Though this was a small class, each one of the students has a lot of potential. Some of them may need longer than others to embrace their potential, but it’s definitely there. Hopefully they will realize it sooner rather than later, because they have a lot to offer,” he said.

Food Bank President and CEO Patricia Beebe praised the students and their families. “The successful graduates you see at today’s ceremony are supported by a community,” she said. “They put in the work, but they are encouraged by our staff and members of the food service industry, like Chef Caputo. I have no doubt they will continue to work hard and build upon what they’ve learned here at The Culinary School.”

Michael Cook, the class’s honor graduate, was pleased with this educational opportunity.

“The Food Bank of Delaware Culinary School at Milford has been a real blessing to me. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques, how to use the latest equipment, and gained knowledge of important culinary cornerstones. Just as important to me, is that I’ve gained a lot of confidence here at school. Chef Tim and Brenda Palomo work very hard at instilling a positive ethos in all the students and I really appreciated that.”

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students took field trips to food processing plants and urban food markets.

Graduate Phillip Kizer enjoyed having Chef Hari Cameron, owner of a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach as his mentor. Phillip spent time with Hari at his restaurant learning as much as possible about the restaurant industry. The two look forward to continuing their mentorship.

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the new graduates. The menu featured roast leg of lamb with fresh rosemary, meatballs green beans and red-skinned potatoes, roasted vegetables, Greek salad with feta cheese, fresh cannolis and other assorted desserts.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

The graduates are: Paula Walston, Uriah Parker, Phillip Kizer, Michael Cook, Kelley McCallum and Ellen Roland.

Special Honors:
Culinary Exellence: Michael Cook and Phillip Kizer
Academic Excellence: Michael Cook and Phillip Kizer
Most-Improved: Ellen Roland
Leadership Award: Ellen Roland


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Filed under Milford Expansion, The Culinary School

Help us Stamp Out Hunger on May 10!

By Caitlin Custer, Donor Outreach Coordinator

Each year, the National Association of Letter Carriers holds a massive one-day food drive with the support of the community. Last year, Stamp Out Hunger brought in more than 270,000 pounds of food in just one day! This year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive takes place nationwide on Saturday, May 10. The Food Bank of Delaware and other hunger-relief organizations throughout the state are the recipients of donations collected in the First State.

Wednesday or Thursday before the food drive, a bag will be delivered to homes all over Delaware. Simply fill the bag with nonperishable cans and leave by your mailbox prior to mail delivery on May 10! Your letter carrier will take care of the rest!

As one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s coordinators for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, I volunteered to help unload postal trucks for last year’s one-day food drive (and I wanted to ensure that everything was running as smooth as possible!). I recruited some strong and willing friends and showed up at 2:00 for my shift at the Lancaster Avenue post office in Wilmington.

As volunteers, it was our job to help the letter carriers that were returning from their routes with bags of food to get them unloaded and placed on our onsite trailer. Later, the trailers were collected and weighed for our food drive total. We worked quickly, trying to clear out the postal trucks as fast as possible, so that we could move on to the next one. It was a busy few hours, but coming with a group of people made it go by quickly. Larry, our Development Director, brought his six-year-old son Brody who was happy to help out and just as willing to amuse us during down time between drop offs.

It was a great experience; I was able to assist the letter carriers on the day of their drive and help out my community, while enjoying time with friends. A big thanks goes out to Brian, Jon, Jack and Angela for making the day a blast! Each of them told me afterwards that they wanted to participate again this year and to be sure to let them know when they could sign up.

Well… sign up is now open and you can help too!

There are still shifts available on VolunteerHub at post offices throughout New Castle County. Participating offices are: Talleyville, Marshallton, Edgemoor, Johnson’s Way, Newark, Bear, Hockessin, Newport and Lancaster Avenue. Bring out a group of friends or family (kids can come too as long as they are at least seven years old!). Sign up today by clicking here!

Thank you to this year’s local sponsors!

  • Bayshore
  • Capital One
  • Agilent Technologies
  • Barclays
  • CMI Electric
  • Delmarva Power
  • DuPont
  • Giant
  • Food Lion
  • Safeway
  • Troy Granite

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Filed under Donate, Events, Supporters

Food Bank of Delaware to serve free meals to childrens’ sites this summer

By Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern

When the school year draws to a close for the summer, so does lunch for many young children in Delaware. With the end of the school year quickly approaching and summer vacation following very closely behind, the Food Bank of Delaware is encouraging community partners to help serve free meals to children in need through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Beginning June 16, the Food Bank, with help from thousands of volunteers, will prepare and distribute free meals to qualified sites throughout the state. Sites include faith-based organizations, summer camps, sports camps and other centers where children congregate during the summer months.

Neighborhoods and apartment complexes are also qualified to serve free meals through the program. To host a neighborhood program, an adult must contact the food bank for an application to determine eligibility, attend a training session and submit weekly paperwork.

To qualify for free meals, sites must operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children (ages three to 18 years of age) are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. Meals are served seven days a week and there are no fees associated with the program.

“When school is no longer is session, many Delaware school-aged children lose their major food source for the day,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “With the help of the community and our team, we can ensure that at-risk children receive proper nutrition during the summer months.”

Unfortunately only a small percentage of eligible children access these free meals during the summer. The Food Bank of Delaware encourages all eligible organizations and neighborhoods to get involved this summer to help alleviate childhood hunger.

Last year, the Food Bank of Delaware distributed more than 150,000 meals through SFSP, and Beebe hopes that this number will increase in the 2014 summer season.

Nan Ciuffetelli, the executive director of the Cab Calloway Summer School of Arts, utilized the Summer Food Service Program last summer, “The food bank’s meal program is a great addition to what we accomplish. Our students take part in a free breakfast and lunch program during the school year, so it is essential that we continue this during the summer.”

On the menu, participating children can expect to find healthy, kid-friendly foods including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, apples, nectarines, celery sticks, yogurt and more.

SFSP is a federally-funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and locally by the Delaware Department of Education.

Sites in New Castle and Sussex counties interested in serving free meals may contact Dan Jackson, Hunger Relief Coordinator at (302) 444-8128 or Sites in Kent County may contact the Department of Education at (302) 735-4060.


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Filed under Children's Nutrition

Bank of America announces Family Ride, Walk or Run

???????????????????Our friends at Bank of America will hold the inaugural Family Ride, Walk or Run event at the Wilmington Grand Prix in downtown Wilmington on Saturday, May 17 at 12:45 p.m. The event will benefit the Food Bank!

“We are proud to be part of the Wilmington Grand Prix again this year and introduce an event that allows people to ride a bike, walk or run on the same course as professional cyclists from around the world,” said Chip Rossi, Delaware market president of Bank of America. “It’s a great way to connect families to some fun, healthy activities all while supporting an organization helping thousands of Delawareans put food on the table.”

The Family Ride, Walk or Run event will be held on Market Street at 12:45 p.m. with participants reporting to the start line at 12:30 p.m. Those riding their bicycles will ride three laps, a total of three miles, on the race course. Walkers will do one lap for a total of one mile and runners will complete a 5K. The cost to enter is $15 and the proceeds will be given to Food Bank of Delaware. Children under the age of 16 are free.

In addition to benefitting the Food Bank of Delaware, the team, school or organization with the most participants in the event will receive $500!

The Wilmington Grand Prix is a three-day event that kicks off with Monkey Hill Time Trials on Friday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in Brandywine Park. On Saturday, May 17, a Family Street Festival presented by DuPont will take place on Market Street from noon to 5 p.m. and a Wellness Expo presented by HighMark Delaware will take place in Rodney Square. Professional cycling races will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue throughout the day with the last race at 4 p.m. The Wilmington Grand Prix culminates with the Governor’s Ride and Gran Fondo on Sunday, May 18. Proceeds from the Governor’s Ride and Gran Fondo will benefit the Food Bank.

For more information, or to register for the Family Ride, Walk or Run, visit

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