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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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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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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Anti-hunger advocates launch year-long School Breakfast Challenge at Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference

Two-hundred-fifty anti-hunger advocates gathered at the Christiana Hilton yesterday for the second annual Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference. The highlight of the day-long event was the official launch of the School Breakfast Challenge.

Delaware Department of Education Secretary Mark Murphy officially launched the challenge, announcing that a total of $20,000 is available to schools that increase participation in the school breakfast program.

In the 2012-2013 school year, only 52.1 percent of children in Delaware who received free or reduced-price lunch also participated in school breakfast.

“We know for our children to be able to learn well, their minds need to be free from worrying about hunger pains. Ensuring our children receive nutritious meals is a vital component of their academic health,” Murphy said.

Cash prizes will be available in the following categories:


  • Highest overall participation percentage – cash prizes for first place ($4,000), second place ($2,000), third place ($1,000) and fourth place ($500).
  • Highest increase in participation – cash prizes for first place ($4,000), second place ($2,000), third place ($1,000), and fourth place ($500).
  • Implementation of an alternative breakfast program or adding breakfast where it was not offered before. Honorable mention


  • Highest overall participation percentage. There will be cash prizes for first place ($2,500).
  • Highest increase in participation percentage. There will be cash prizes for first place ($2,500).
  • Implementation of an alternative breakfast program or adding breakfast where it was not offered before. Honorable mention

Winners will be announced at next year’s Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference, and funding must be used to purchase equipment to improve the infrastructure of their nutrition programs.

Governor Jack Markell applauded the School Breakfast Challenge and emphasized the state’s commitment to ensuring the all Delawareans, especially children, have access to nutritious foods.

“While Delaware’s economy continues to improve, we know the recovery hasn’t reached all of our neighbors,” Markell said. “We will keep the safety net strong for individuals, families and, especially, children who are vulnerable to hunger. One critical area of our focus is our schools, recognizing that without consistent access to food, children’s physical, emotional and educational growth are in jeopardy. The School Breakfast Challenge is another important step to move us closer to a hunger-free Delaware.”

Administrator of the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Services Audrey Rowe discussed USDA’s important role in alleviating hunger for millions of Americans.

“I want to commend the many school districts in Delaware who have brought breakfast into the classroom,” said Rowe. “We hear from teachers who say that when kids eat healthy foods they do better in school. When kids get lots of healthy food choices and exercise at school, they learn good habits for life.”

In addition to the launch of the school breakfast challenge, anti-hunger advocate Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, provided keynote remarks that focused on the country’s collective will, including government’s, to end hunger.

“Saying we can end poverty and hunger by removing funding is like saying we can get rid of drought by removing water,” said Berg.

Four panels throughout the day focused on community-based advocacy, federal nutrition policies, healthy food access and funding for anti-hunger programs.

“The biggest bang for a federal dollar is SNAP benefits,” said Ellen Teller, Director of Government Relations for the Food Research and Action Center. “However, the SNAP program is the bull’s-eye on Capitol Hill. Anti-hunger advocates must be agile and play defense again the attacks.”

Panelists informed attendees that both national and local advocacy efforts are an important part of the political process as it relates to programs for low-income households.”

“When the stimulus funding ended last November, that meant an annual $16 million reduction in SNAP benefits, which is more than the entire annual budget of the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Secretary Rita Landgraf of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which administers the SNAP program in the state. “Food is paramount to keeping people safe and healthy in their communities. That’s why we are committed to working with Gov. Jack Markell, our congressional delegation, state legislators and federal officials to find long-term solutions to meeting the basic food needs of vulnerable Delawareans.”

“Today was truly inspiring,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “To have so many individuals from all sectors show their support for a community free of hunger was humbling. We know that we have what it takes to end hunger in our state. Now we just need the political will to make it happen. Hunger is unacceptable in this country.”

To learn more about the School Breakfast Challenge or to sponsor it, please contact Dan Reyes, Coalition to End Hunger Coordinator at the Food Bank of Delaware, at (302) 292-1305 ext 206 or

Check out some photos from the day!


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Filed under Advocate, Events, Hunger, Nutrition, Poverty, Programs

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Combs

Kathy Combs Volunteer SpotlightVolunteers are the heart and soul of our organization.

Kathy Combs started volunteering at the Food Bank just three weeks ago, but has already demonstrated her commitment to a hunger-free community. Kathy’s interest in hunger was sparked through a class she is currently taking at Wilmington University. She wrote a paper on food insecurity and researched the Food Bank’s impact on the local community.

“I was really interested in the Food Bank’s programs,” she explains.  “They have a lot of innovative programs that address the issue of food insecurity and hunger in Delaware. I was very impressed with just the statistic of how many people are hungry in our state. The Food Bank addresses the problem from a lot of different innovative angles. They are not just supplying food, but also [offer] a lot of innovative programs on how to get food to people.”

Kathy has been helping out in the Newark warehouse a few times each week. Some typical projects she helps with include packing bags full of weekend food for at-risk children who participate in our weekend Backpack Program and packing food boxes for senior citizens who participate in our monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Kathy says that volunteering makes her feel good.  “I enjoy meeting others here and finding out why they like to volunteer.”

She enjoys it so much that she’s working to schedule a time for both her family and coworkers to come in to help out on a Saturday.

Thank you to Kathy and the thousands of other dedicated volunteers who visit our facilities each year!

To learn more about volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit


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