Category Archives: FBD Staff

The other ride

By Nicole Wilson, Chef Instructor

As I came into the warehouse on a crisp October morning at 7:30 a.m., drinking my cup of coffee, I looked for John Sease, one of our drivers, to take me out on his truck that day.  I had been curious to see firsthand what it is like for the Food Bank drivers working their daily routines and the impact they have on our organization and community.

John greeted me as he was loading up his Chase “Driving Out Hunger” truck.  He was busily moving inventory onto the truck, and the main item today was tomatoes.  Other Food Bank warehouse employees and drivers were quickly moving pallets of food, strategizing their plan of attack for the day’s deliveries.

As I jumped into the truck, I was both eager and nervous.  Prior to our trip together, I had not had much conversation with John due to our different schedules.  John tells me about the route and the partner organizations we’d be visiting.   I can already see how passionate he is about his job.

A few people, including John, were surprised I wanted to go with him that day, but I wanted to know the ins and outs of the Food Bank so that I can better advocate for our organization, partners and the people that we touch.  John has been with the Food Bank for six years and started in the warehouse and has since become a leader at the Food Bank.  He is well liked amongst his peers, and partnering organizations love him.

As we are driving, I ask John how he knows what order goes to which agency

“The donations that come in from the local grocers and farmers get dispersed amongst the partners,” he says.

There’s an order sheet that gets printed out with the food on it, and John knows by heart what the partner receives from the Food Bank.  I learned that Mondays and Wednesdays are good days to go out and see where delivers most of the food.

First on our list was Child Inc.  It’s located within a development that has many children. When we pulled up, children were catching the school bus.  John unloads plenty of boxes of tomatoes, and they are stacked high in the organization’s driveway.

Our next stop is Pantry of Hope.  John backs his truck up to their loading dock and greets Mr. Leroy as he pulls up in his van to receive our order.  John talks to him for a couple minutes. Mr. Leroy was happy to see John.  I inquired about the number of people served at this particular location.  He said several hundred people use this site to receive their food.  Pantry of Hope shops weekly at the Food Bank, and we also deliver assorted goods once a week.

Donny helps us unload and as soon as it’s off the truck he begins to separate the order in order put it away.  Pantry of Hope stays busy working to meet the needs of the community

We quickly move on to the next stop.  On the way John gets a phone call from one of our partners inquiring about their food order.  John informs the individual that we will be there shortly.

The next delivery is for Neighborhood House.  The receptionist, Ms. Rochelle, greets John very quickly as she is multitasking between the phone and receiving our order.  Mr. Henry, a Neighborhood House retiree, jumps in to help us unload flats of tomatoes from the pallet.  Together we unload 30 boxes of tomatoes, and John and Mr. Henry talk like they have been friends for years!   John goes in for a signature and wishes the receptionist happy birthday.  She is flattered and tells him to have a good day!

As John expertly drives his truck down this narrow street near Life St. Stephen’s Food Closet we see at least 15 people waiting for our drop off.  They look cold and no smiles on their faces.  You can feel the down trodden vibe amongst the group.  Two guys help John.  One gentleman pulls me to the side and tells me how much John is a blessing to them.  They say he’s a good man and praise him.  I can feel the love they have for him and the Food Bank as I wish them well.  Many people in the community depend on John and the Food Bank!

As John rides through Wilmington, he begins telling me about Daryl Graham from JPMorgan Chase.  Many years ago, John drove a truck without air conditioning. The summers were brutal! Daryl talked to John and promised him a truck with air conditioning.  Daryl made it happen for the Food Bank and now John delivers in an air conditioned truck!

The next stop is the Delawarr State Service Center.  Miss Saunders is waiting patiently with a warm smile on her face and greets John with a nice welcome.  We unloaded 30 cases for the center  and then said our goodbyes and it’s on the road again.

Next, we stop at Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School and then it’s off to B.J.’s in Newark for a pick up.

We pull up to the loading dock, and Betty greets us with a smile and a hello.  She talks with John and explains the pick-up as we go to the freezer to get the inventory.  They had a half of a pallet today for the Food Bank.

We head back to the Food Bank and I am told that I would not be allowed to go to the Port of Wilmington due to safety issues.  So I decide to go with Erik Klair and Brian Henderson for a pickup at the S.I.W. Farm for the CSA program.

We ride out to the farm and meet the farmer, H.G. Haskell. The farm is very authentic and beautiful.  The farm has horses, dogs and even a mole that kept us company. H.G. wasted no time packing up the vans and then we were on our way back to the Food Bank with a load of fresh tomatoes and cabbage.

I learned a great deal about the Food Bank while I was on the road. It showed me that one person can make a difference! Whether it’s being a delivery driver, a chef instructor, a warehouse worker, an administrative assistant, a registered dietician, a CEO, an intern, a volunteer, a programs director, a programs manager, a volunteer coordinator, etc., each one of us at the Food Bank plays an important role!

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to bond with another Food Bank employee, even if it was just for a couple of hours, and embrace the impact that his daily routine has on the surrounding community.  I am honored to be a part of the team at the Food Bank and to know the great people that represent this cause to end hunger!

Check out some photos from my trip!

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Filed under FBD Staff, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs, Supporters, Warehouse

Summer Through the Eyes of the Intern

By Mike Dombkoski, Communications Intern

When it comes to searching for internships for University of Delaware students, the Food Bank of Delaware (FBD) probably doesn’t immediately catch the eye. Business students look for work with high ranking financial institutions, science majors may look at hospitals or research opportunities, and, somehow, a place that genuinely helps people the way the Food Bank does, gets overlooked.

I began my internship here at the Food Bank back in late May, and I’ll be finishing up my last week here in late August. I found out about the internship way back in the fall when communications director, Kim Turner (aka my current boss), came into my Intro to Public Relations class and I ended up having to do a project for FBD.

For many students, an unpaid internship at a small(-ish) non-profit may not jump out at them. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for. After a few months of hounding Kim every time she came to UD and harassing her with emails, I eventually set up an internship to work for her for the summer.

Going back to my first day in May, to be honest, I was pretty scared. I had worked plenty of jobs before, but as someone who had just finished his sophomore year, I had never worked an internship before and never in an office. Walking in to the building, I was immediately greeted by Kim, who had the first office on the right. She did her best to make me feel welcomed by introducing me to everyone who worked for the Food Bank.

And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.

She reassured me that I did not need to memorize everyone’s name right then, and my brain relaxed a little at that sentiment.

From there, I was thrown right into the mix. I remember calling my mom proudly that day to tell her about my day and showing off that I had worked right through lunch, not leaving my work to eat my packed peanut butter and jelly.

Now, of course, not every day was like this. Every business has its slow days and busy days, as does every internship. But working at an internship where I worked both in and out of the office was a refreshing, new experience.

In the first couple of weeks, I was able to meet NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon and Governor of Delaware Jack Markell through a couple of events. I have to admit, I would not have expected to meet such high profile people through an internship like this, but, lucky for me, I did.

But this internship was a lot more than just meeting people that I could show off to my friends and family for meeting. Some students can work internships where they work all day and rarely see how their company is affecting or helping people. That’s not the case here.

On more than one occasion, I got to see how the Food Bank helps Delaware and the people that they are helping. These are people who have lost jobs, family members, or can no longer work for whatever reason, and, without the help of the Food Bank, probably would not make it.

Two of my favorite moments of the internship came recently. One was at our mobile pantry at the Northeast State Services Center in Wilmington. Families were able to take home up to 30 pounds of food after taking a financial literacy class at the center. Seeing the truck out in that parking lot, the cast of Bank of America volunteers helping, and the genuine appreciation on the faces and in the words of the families who were receiving the food made it obvious why the employees at the Food Bank enjoy doing what they do.

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The other moment came when Kim and I went with truck driver John Sease to watch him deliver produce to some of our feeding sites in the area. The volunteers helping with the food at each site seemed excited each time John pulled up to their loading zone. Sease would ask about everyone’s family and knew specific things about all of them. It was then that I realized the Food Bank provides a lot more than just food.

Through my three short months at the Food Bank, I learned a lot more than I would have working in just a “regular” office. I made friends, learned the inner workings of a food bank (no, you don’t just pick up the food directly from here), and learned skills that you cannot acquire sitting at a desk. I gained a greater appreciation of things. Most importantly, I learned it’s better to love a job by the work you are doing, and not by a paycheck.

Late into the internship, Kim made it a habit of preaching small life lessons every now and then. Some were serious, some funny, but all worth listening to. One definitely stuck with me.

“Stay humble.”

If nothing else, the Food Bank of Delaware has taught me to appreciate my life more, think of others, and to never put myself above anyone else. I can truly understand the meaning of the word humble when I look at Kim and many of the other employees here fighting the never-ending problem of hunger in Delaware.

I can’t thank the Food Bank of Delaware, Kim Turner, and everyone else who helped me along the way enough. Thank you so much for this opportunity and I hope to see you all in the future.

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Filed under FBD Staff, Just for Fun

A Day in the Food Bank Delivery Truck!

By Mike Dombkoski, Communications Internsease2

The Food Bank of Delaware provides a great service to the state of Delaware by providing emergency food assistance for people in need in the area. As an intern working in the office for the most part, it can be easy to overlook or forget that aspect. On August 7th, I had the opportunity to ride along with one of our truck drivers, John Sease, in order to deliver produce to the Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger-relief program partners. I was instantly reminded of all the help the Food Bank does provide.

Dropping off at several stops throughout Northern Delaware, John’s truck was continually greeted by smiling faces at the pickup area. Simply by watching, I could tell how much the people appreciated the produce, which included corn, potatoes, squash and other fresh vegetables, and the services the Food Bank provides. I also noticed how much the volunteers seemed to enjoy John’s presence, and how he seemed to enjoy theirs as well.

“I think you really need to enjoy your job if you want to work here,” said Sease. “I like working here. It’s not just about a paycheck for me.”

The obvious connections between Sease and the volunteers are likely what make John enjoy his job so much. Whether the site was at a church or a daycare, the giant Food Bank of Delaware truck was greeted with smiles each time.

Seeing the people that genuinely need help from the Food Bank not only made me appreciate the work done here, but made me realize how much the people who truly need the assistance appreciate it as well.

On the way back to the Food Bank after our final drop off of the morning, Sease told some short stories from years of experience driving the truck and talked a little about his family. Some of the stories involved dangerous incidents, some involved laughter and some just involved nice experiences with Delawareans. I could tell all of it was sincere.

The Food Bank of Delaware provides a lot of assistance to those in need. But, in the short few hours I spent in the truck, I could tell they provide a lot more than just food.

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Acme Shopping Spree results in $11,000 donation for the Food Bank of Delaware

We are excited to announce that Acme Markets has donated $11,000 to our hunger-relief efforts in the state of Delaware. The donation is a result of an Acme shopping spree that took place last Thursday through the aisles of the grocer’s Dover store (check out the video!).

Food Bank of Delaware staff members were joined by NASCAR truck series drivers Ron Hornaday and Brennan Newberry and WBOC News Director Mike Chesney for a race around the store. Acme president Jim Perkins issued a challenge to the “racers,” “collect more than $1,500 during the 99-second shopping spree and Acme will double the amount collected.”

During the spree the team loaded grocery carts with high-price items such as diapers, large slabs of meat, laundry detergent and more. More than seven carts lined the checkout, and it took more than 20 minutes to ring up the items. The team collected more than $5,300 worth of products.

“As the official grocery store of the Dover International Speedway, Acme is proud to partner with NASCAR in supporting the work of the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Jim Perkins, Acme president. “It was great fun for a great cause.”

“I was so excited to participate in the Acme shopping spree,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Volunteer Coordinator Matthew Brandi. “Before I started I set a mental game plan to go for the high-dollar items in order to get the largest donation for the food bank. It worked, and I am so proud of the team!”

“Acme continues to step up to help us alleviate hunger in the First State,” said Food Bank of Delaware Branch Director Chad Robinson. “From the weekly fresh food donations to events throughout the year, this donation will go a long way in helping the one in four Delawareans who depend on our network of emergency food assistance services each year.”

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SNAP Outreach at the Food Bank of Delaware

By Brenda Palomo, SNAP Outreach Coordinator

Here I am demonstrating how much food the minimum SNAP benefit for one person can buy.

When I first started at the Food Bank of Delaware earlier this year, our SNAP Outreach Program was brand new as well. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is designed to help low-income households supplement their budgets so they don’t have to sacrifice their nutrition in order to pay for other essentials. Motivated by the unfortunate statistic that approximately a quarter of all Delawareans eligible for SNAP benefits did not receive them, we got to work.

In the six months since, we have worked with existing partners and built new partnerships with the purpose of spreading the word about SNAP benefits and letting people know that the Food Bank of Delaware is here to help. We have attended health and community fairs, food distribution events and held presentations throughout the state in an attempt to inform low-income households – particularly those including elderly people, migrant workers and working families – about the assistance available to them.

In our work, we have come across many people who have been in dire need of assistance, but never knew it was available for them. Many of these people are hard workers who have fallen on difficult times. They have been focused on achieving a balance between making ends meet and affording a better future for their children. Many did not know that they could receive benefits if they were working.

Mrs. Walters*(name changed) of Georgetown, and her husband, 58 and 60 respectively, have worked tough jobs all their lives. Forced to drop out of school at an early age, in order to care for her oldest child, Ms. Walters never received her high school diploma. Nonetheless, Mr. and Mrs. Walters always found ways to make sure they could provide for themselves and their three children, no matter how difficult times got. At one point Mrs. Walters worked at two different poultry plants, averaging about 12-14 hour workdays, during which she spent almost the whole time on her feet.

Now that her three children, all of who have served in the military, are grown up and on their own, Mrs. Walters has been able to stop working in order to care for her knee problems incurred from standing such long hours at work. Her husband, however, continues to work long hard days, and making ends meet is a struggle.

When I met Mrs. Walters at the Georgetown Library to help her apply for SNAP benefits online, she was proud to tell me that she and her husband had never applied for assistance before. “We don’t want to take advantage of anyone, especially, if other people need the help more than us,” she declared. However, now that bills are tight and the economy is rough, she appreciated knowing that there were people like me to help relieve some of the burden.

The Food Bank of Delaware is now a registered community partner on the State of Delaware’s Assist website, and we can process applications on behalf of any client who is interested. This has been particularly helpful in cases where clients are elderly, unable to navigate the internet or get to the state service center. Applications can be filled out online, supporting documents can be faxed or mailed in and interviews can be conducted over the phone. Now clients don’t even have to step a foot in the State Service Center.

“I really do appreciate that you’re going the extra mile to help me. It really makes it so much easier to know that you can meet me at the library and fill out the paperwork with me,” Mrs. Walters commented. “I can tell you like your job, and you really want to help people.”

And I do, fortunately, love my job and the rewards of knowing I can help people like Mrs. Walters and her husband improve their lives. Mrs. Walters hopes SNAP benefits will help her and her husband make ends meet while she stays home to complete her GED this semester. Once she achieves her goal, she says, “I’m going to get myself a job!” with the hopes that she can increase the household income, and bills will not be such a burden.

For more information on our SNAP Outreach Program, please visit www.fbd.org/snap-outreach. If you would like to support our efforts, host a SNAP Outreach effort at your agency or need help applying for SNAP food benefits, please contact the Food Bank of Delaware’s SNAP Outreach Coordinators below:

Brenda Palomo (Kent and Sussex County)
Bpalomo@fbd.org
(302) 424-3301 ext. 107

Or

Matt Talley (New Castle County)
mtalley@fbd.org
(302) 292-1305 ext 249

 Or got to the ASSIST Website at https://assist.dhss.delaware.gov

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Filed under Advocate, Face of Hunger, FBD Staff, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Nutrition, Poverty, Programs

4800 meals packed for seniors as part of Drive to End Hunger initiative

NASCAR fans packed 4,800 meals for seniors in need at Dover International Speedway yesterday as part of a Chase-sponsored event! The boxes were delivered to us for distribution to Delaware seniors struggling to put meals on the table.

Race fans began lining up for the packing event as early as 5:15 a.m. (the start time was 8 a.m.!) in hopes to receive a glimpse of No. 24 AARP Drive to End Hunger driver Jeff Gordon. The first 300 fans to visit the Chase tent and pack of box full of cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, crackers, pancake mix and other household staples received a free pass to a Gordon Q&A session.

“Chase continues to step up to the plate in our fight against hunger,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “It was wonderful to see so many race fans concerned about hunger in the First State. I was impressed to see a long line of fans waiting before the packing tent even opened. At the Food Bank of Delaware we know that it takes our entire community working together to alleviate hunger.”

According to statistics from AARP’s Drive to End Hunger, one in 20 Delaware seniors struggles with hunger. Many are forced to make difficult decisions – purchase food or medications. The packed boxes will be distributed to area organizations that provide hunger relief to senior citizens.

Our staff had a great time working to alleviate hunger at the race yesterday! Check out some photos from the day!

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House Concurrent Resolution 49 recognizes Food Bank of Delaware

Our staff spent the day at Legislative Hall last Thursday educating Delaware’s elected officials on the issues of hunger in the First State. Our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe, kicked off the day by presenting to the Delaware Kids Caucus on childhood hunger in Delaware. She outlined the many ways the Food Bank is addressing childhood hunger and efforts the Anti-Hunger Coalition has made to increase school breakfast participation by utilizing a Grab and Go breakfast in the classroom format.

Here are just a few of the ways we have impacted Delaware children this year:

  • Distributed 304,108 meals to children through our Afterschool Nutrition Program
  • Distributed 405,000-plus meals in just nine weeks last summer through the Summer Nutrition Program
  • Distributed 71,674 bags through the Backpack Program – just last week we served 3,158 children
  • Distributed 12,731 pounds of food through our School Pantry Program
  • Taught children about healthy eating and ways to cook at home through our Kid C.H.E.F. program

Representative Ed Osienski sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 49 during the afternoon legislative session recognizing the Food Bank of Delaware’s commitment to ending hunger in the First State. Our President and CEO spoke to members of the House of Representatives and said,from Senate District 1 in Wilmington to Senate District 4 in Chateau Country and Representative District 40 in Laurel, hunger impacts each and every part of our state.” Members of both the House and Senate received a packet of information outlining the Food Bank of Delaware’s impact on their district’s constituents.

Despite making a tremendous impact on the First State’s economy and its people, only 5 percent of our funding comes from state government. Patricia encouraged our elected officials to get involved in our fight against hunger, because it truly takes everyone working in collaboration to help meet the needs of our most vulnerable!

Check out some pictures from Legislative Day!

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Filed under Advocate, FBD Staff, Hunger, Nutrition, Poverty, Programs, Supporters

Feeding America President and CEO Vicki Escarra visits Food Bank of Delaware

Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief charity, spent the morning volunteering at our Newark warehouse and learning more about how our organization is alleviating hunger in the First State.

Our staff, United States Senator Chris Coons, State Representative Darryl Scott and other community representatives greeted Escarra with a breakfast reception before she headed to our industrial-sized kitchen to experience firsthand what it takes to feed hungry children in the state through the food bank’s Summer Nutrition Program. We operate the largest food bank-run summer feeding program in the country!

Wearing plastic gloves and hairnets, Vicki and our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe helped prepare more than 1,200 turkey and cheese sandwiches. In addition to making sandwiches, they also packed lunch bags filled with fruit and other snacks for children in need.

“It was a great day to be at the Food Bank of Delaware witnessing firsthand the work the organization does to alleviate hunger in the First State,” said Escarra. “I was especially impressed by the volume of meals produced by staff and volunteers to ensure that no child goes hungry during the summer months.  I applaud the Food Bank of Delaware’s commitment to achieve our network’s collective vision of a hunger-free America.”

“When Vicki told me she was wanted to visit the Food Bank of Delaware to see our Summer Nutrition Program for children, I was thrilled,” said Beebe. “When we told her she was going to be making sandwiches and packing lunches she jumped right in – hair net and all! She is truly an advocate for a community free of hunger. The Feeding America network is incredibly lucky to have her as a leader in our fight against domestic hunger.”

In addition to spending the morning volunteering, Vicki also met with our management team to learn more about our programs, operations, policy work and finances and how Feeding America and the food bank can work together with the nonprofit, business, education and government sectors to feed more people.

Thank you Vicki for visiting! We hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did! To learn more about how the Feeding America food bank network is working to fight hunger on the national level, please visit www.feedingamerica.org.

Check out some photos from today’s visit!

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Team Food Bank takes on the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon & 5k

After months of training during the cold, dark winter months, ten of our staff members competed in the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon and 5k this past Sunday! To “carb up” for the race the team gathered for a spaghetti dinner at “Coach” Kim’s house the night before. The team was worried during the days leading up to the race because the weather forecast called for a mixture of snow and rain – certainly not ideal running conditions!

The next morning, decked out in green Team Food Bank shirts, the team came ready to run! While the temperature was cold, the skies were clear! The half marathon course was intense with hills throughout and one final killer hill coming up Market Street for the last .1 of both the half and 5k.

Congratulations to Kyle, Jason, Beverly, Anna and Ed for finishing the half marathon! “That ending hill was cruel and unusual punishment,” said Beverly. “But it was a wonderful experience to be able to bond with coworkers!”

Kyle finished first out of the Food Bank team in 1:32:22 and took fourth place overall for his age group!

Larry, Trevor, Erik, Charlotte and Kim ran the 5k race. Larry finished first out of the group, and Kim finished in 25:27 and won third place for her age group.

Great job to everyone on Team Food Bank! As you can imagine, on Monday morning there were several Food Bankers limping around with sore muscles! The team is already looking forward to planning group runs after work and participating in more races throughout the state!

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A Martin Luther King Day food distribution recap

Monday was a jam-packed day of service at the Food Bank of Delaware! More than 150 volunteers spent time with us at our Newark Branch, Governor Markell and a slew of other volunteers visited our Milford Branch and the afternoon was spent distributing food at our mobile pantry in Dover.

Close to 60 volunteers, including Representative Darryl Scott and Dover City Councilwoman Sophia Russell, helped us distribute food to close to 300 households for a total of 936 individuals. The parking lot at Fulton Street and Governors Avenue was lined hours before the 2pm start time with families hoping to receive assistance at the first-come, first-served mobile pantry.

“The turnout is an indicator of the great need in our community,” said Representative Scott. “It’s reenergized me to work harder to address the issue of hunger in our state.”

Students from Wesley College and other local middle and high schools were on hand to assist the Food Bank staff with the distribution. Sharon Kropf of Dover was out with her 16- and 17-year-old children. Both kids are frequent Food Bank volunteers!

“My kids really enjoy volunteering, especially interacting with those receiving assistance,” she said. “It’s absolutely been an eye opener for them.”

Families attending the mobile pantry received 30-pound meal boxes, which contained enough food to feed a family of four for several days, frozen turkeys, bananas, potatoes, clementine oranges, cheese, beverages, hygeine products and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Delaware. Please visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

Check out some more photos from the mobile pantry!

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Filed under Face of Hunger, FBD Staff, Hunger, Poverty, Supporters, Volunteer