Category Archives: Hunger-Relief Partners

Partner Spotlight: Hanover Presbyterian Church

It takes a large network of partners to meet the emergency food needs of Delawareans. In recent years, the Food Bank of Delaware has encouraged hunger-relief partners to set up a client-choice pantry that allows families to choose the best foods for their households.

On a recent visit to Hanover Presbyterian Church, we were greeted by a dedicated team of volunteers. Pantry Coordinator, Becky, has been volunteering at the food closet for 10 years, while Ruth, who works the pantry window, has been lending a hand for 20 years! Both women work hard to make sure the community’s needs are met. In addition to hosting the pantry every Thursday, the church also opens a clothing closet to the community every Wednesday.

As families enter the church’s community hall, they sign in. A free hot breakfast with coffee is available to those who arrive early. One by one, households are called up to the pantry window where they choose from a variety of basic household staples.

Ruth staffs the window greeting each visitor with a smile. She asks families to pick the foods they need.  “You can choose from frozen chicken, beef or pork,” she says. “Next choose a few vegetables, a cereal and protein. You can choose either peanut butter or beans.”

After visiting the window, families receive fresh produce. An assortment of fruit was distributed by volunteer Milton. Herbert “the vegetable man” has been volunteering with Hanover for 4.5 years and says he is always on vegetable duty. On that particular day, Herbert distributed kale, collard greens and white potatoes. After picking up produce, families pick hygeine products and baked goods.

Becky is thankful for the partnership Hanover has with the Food Bank. What the pantry doesn’t get in donations, Becky uses her membership with the Food Bank of Delaware to supplement the inventory. Twice a month she visits to pick up an assortment of goods including frozen meats.

Check out some more pictures from Hanover’s food distribution!



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Serving summer meals at Lingo Apartments in Long Neck

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Summer time and the living is easy . . . or so the song lyrics go, but for some children a summer vacation from school creates food insecurity.

With summer vacation just around the corner, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Summer Food Service Program fills a much-needed void at sites up and down the state.

Volunteer Carol Feeley manages the program at Lingo Apartments in Long Neck.

Mrs. Feely is an active member of the Auxiliary of the American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro.

A recent retiree and chairperson of the community service committee, Mrs. Feeley and other auxiliary members help out during the summer months from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the complex’s community room.

Every day in the summer, about 15 elementary school children show up for lunch. Some will stay for games or to chat with the volunteers.

“The kids are fun. They are nice children,” she said.

Mrs. Feely explains that assisting with this program meets one of the auxiliary’s mission of service; the organization became involved four years ago.

“Our goal is service to veterans, military families and their children in the community. We know that one child is a grandchild of our members. We’re serving veterans through their family members,” she said.

For the volunteers, the service is uncomplicated: one or two assist each day with setting up, serving and wiping down the tables. Food Bank of Delaware volunteers pack the meals back at the Milford Branch and a driver delivers right to the apartment complex.

“It’s really simple. By one o’clock, they’re gone and we’re cleaned up,” Mrs. Feeley added.

The program, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and administered by the state Department of Education, provides meals to low-income children who don’t have access to free and reduced-price school meals during the summer months.

Last summer, the Food Bank of Delaware delivered 150,000 children’s meals. This year the Food Bank expects to deliver more than 200,000.

As with other Food Bank of Delaware programs, volunteers like Mrs. Feeley and the American Legion Post 28 Auxiliary are the key to meeting the needs of Delawareans having difficulties putting meals on the table.

Volunteers can sign up to assist with the Summer Food Service Program at

Sites wishing to receive free meals from the Food Bank of Delaware may contact Dan Jackson, Hunger Relief Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or

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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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Partner Spotlight: Claymont Community Center

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Tucked away in a residential community in the heart of Claymont, the Claymont Community Center offers area residents an array of services. From the Head Start preschool program and a medical clinic for the uninsured to a food pantry, the center is a one-stop shop. I had the opportunity to visit the center last week just before our last major snow storm hit. As pantry visitors filtered in and out to pick up essentials, the main concern for most was the next day’s forecast for almost a foot of snow.

Doris Lockett, the food pantry manager, said this winter has been especially difficult for pantry visitors. The cold weather, coupled with frequent snow storms, has significantly impacted her clients’ monthly budgets.

In just the last three weeks, Lockett has seen increases. “This is due to the fact that food stamps were cut and unemployment benefits have been cut off,” she explains. “It’s been a big problem for people.”

From 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every Wednesday, the pantry is booked solid with appointments of individuals needing assistance. Households in need are able to visit the pantry every 30 days. She reports seeing new faces in line each Wednesday. A lot of families who never thought they would need help are now in need.
To keep up with demands, the food pantry depends on the support of the community. In addition to food from the Food Bank, the organization receives food drive donations from local organizations, churches and schools and also picks up rescued foods from local grocers, including Trader Joe’s and Acme. Volunteers from the community pick up these donations daily and deliver to the food closet. A second team helps pack grocery bags full of food and distributes to pantry visitors.

Last week during my visit, Wendoli, Gabriel, Yvonne and Steven were on hand to assist. They greeted pantry visitors and helped gather bags full of assorted baked goods, non-perishables, meats, juices, fresh produce, hygiene products and more. As soon as I met the four, I could tell they loved the work they were doing. They all appreciate how thankful food pantry visitorsy are for the extra assistance.

Check out some pictures from the recent visit!



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Program spotlight: Cape Henlopen School District Backpack Program

01_16 rehoboth backpack photo

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Judy Hudson, the social worker at Rehoboth Elementary School, is the school coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program, but she quickly credits two faithful PTO volunteers as “the energy behind the distribution.”

Statewide, the program serves 4,382 students in 115 schools. Students are referred into the program, rather than based on income requirements or eligibility for free and reduced lunches.

The Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program provides food to children in need for weekends and holidays when school is not in session and federal school meal programs are not available.

Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, granola bars, apple sauce, cereal and more.

Food and informational flyers for the backpacks are packed by volunteers, and the Food Bank of Delaware delivers the bags to participating sites weekly. Site staff stores the bags in a secure area until distribution day.

Dependent upon availability, school supplies are also distributed in the take-home bags.

So each week, the Food Bank trucks deliver 99 backpacks to the Rehoboth school’s back door where they are unloaded by the custodial staff, and then every Thursday volunteers Carrie Robertson and Sandy Monigle take the bags around.

Since these moms are sensitive to how differently older children respond to receiving the bag, they have one system for younger kids and another for those in grades 4 and 5.

Second grade teacher Keri Mitchell places the bags in her students’ backpacks.

“The little ones are very thankful because they will now have food in the house for the weekend. This really helps the whole family,” Mitchell said.

At H.O. Brittingham, another elementary school in the Cape Henlopen School District, Katina Powell is the school secretary and also the designated school coordinator for the past three years.

Powell accepted the responsibility because she was all too aware of the need; of the school’s 583 students, 82 percent live in poverty.

“Who can say no,” she said, adding that she relies on a paraprofessional to distribute the bags to students.

“The Food Bank trucks come on Wednesday, and we take them on Thursday.”

She can see that students love the backpacks.

“It’s done discreetly. If it’s not there, they are looking for it. It’s something that shows we care. The littlest thing, they are appreciative for. We do coat drives, Christmas drives and Thanksgiving drives. We are the only school in my district that has this type of poverty. We do the best we can to make it work,” she said.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact Alina Wade at or (302) 292-1305 ext 210.

It costs approximately $158 to provide one child with weekend and holiday food for a whole school year.  This includes the cost of  food for each week, supplies, transportation and program administration. To sponsor a child, call Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or email him at

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Filling little bellies on the weekend with the Backpack Program

Backpack April 2013 2By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit two schools that participate in our Backpack Program, and more specifically to meet the coordinators for a feature story about the program: Judy Hudson at Rehoboth Elementary School and Katina Powell at H.O. Brittingham Elementary in Milton. (Check back for the story on Monday!)

Let me say something at the start: being professionally associated with the Food Bank of Delaware is an honor and a privilege. No matter where I go, people express appreciation for the services we provide, and especially those directed toward children who have no food at home.

Visiting sites is educational on several levels, and it’s also an opportunity to answer questions about the services we offer. These school coordinators were all too familiar with the faces of childhood hunger.

That’s right. Thousands of children here in Delaware come to school for breakfast and lunch, then return home to empty refrigerators and kitchen cupboards. What about the weekends?

The Backpack Program provides nutritious food for these kids over the weekend. Packed inside a five-pound plastic potato bag are four kid-friendly, non-perishable meals and two snacks.

Food Bank trucks deliver these bags to the 115 schools statewide, and from there it takes a team to discreetly put a bag in a child’s backpack. Each school has its own distribution system.

Although the demographics of these elementary schools differ, both schools I visited are part of the Cape Henlopen School District and educate students from kindergarten to 5th grades.

The Backpack Program is set up statewide so that when a teacher or counselor becomes aware of a child who might be food insecure, the designated school coordinator attempts to get parents or guardians to complete the paperwork for this service.

At the school in Rehoboth, 99 backpacks go home each weekend, while 55 are distributed in Milton.

Nevertheless, both school coordinators called the backpacks blessings to those who received them and were extremely appreciative that this program helps their students secure one of life’s basic necessities.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact School Nutrition Coordinator, Alina Wade, at (302) 292-1305 ext 210 or

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Kid C.H.E.F. at the Stevenson House in Milford

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

On a chilly January afternoon, nine teen-age guys sat around tables at the Stevenson House listening attentively as Asia Thurston reviewed sources of protein and the distinction between proteins and diary.

Asia is a Community Nutrition Educator for the Food Bank of Delaware, and she takes her Kid C.H.E.F. program on the road to schools, child care centers and even unlikely locations like the Stevenson House.

The William Marion Stevenson House Detention Center in Milford is a lock-secure facility staffed for 55 pre-adjudicated male and female youth under the age of 18 years old.

Visitors must have permission to enter, and youth rehabilitative counselors are seated near the teens in the cafeteria where Ms. Thurston presents her lessons.

C.H.E.F.  is an acronym for Cooking Health Easy Foods, so Asia selects recipes that students can prepare at home with or without supervision.

As part of the program, each student goes home with a small draw-string backpack loaded with kitchen utensils and an oven mitten mitt, and additionally they receive the recipes from class in the Kid C.H.E.F.  package.

The teens respond as Asia peppers them with questions: Who can name a protein? Who has tried tofu?

Last week’s 60-minute lesson centers around turkey tacos, and this instructor hands out can openers along with cans of tomatoes and beans.

“They really love this,” said Andrea Wojcik, communications coordinator for Delaware’s Services for Children, Youth & Families, the state agency which oversees the youth housed in this facility.

After using hand sanitizer and donning plastic gloves, teens volunteer to participate in the preparation, then joke amongst themselves as the ground turkey browns in the electric skillet.

Some of the teens,01-11 kids chef03 whose names are kept confidential, say they enjoy cooking.

One young man, identified as C., his first initial, said he enjoyed the Kid C.H.E.F. experience.

“I like to cook. It’s fun,” he said, adding that he cooked for his sister while his mother worked.

J., 17, said he’s been cooking since he was 11 years old and also worked the grill in a restaurant.

“It’s excellent. It gives you knowledge, things I can share with my little brother.”01_11 kids chef02

The program is free to all children who qualify. To sponsor a child for this program, contact Larry Haas, Development Director at The cost of $72 includes the chef equipment and tote bag, food to prepare recipes and take-home nutrition education materials and activities for the family.

For more information about hosting a Kid C.H.E.F. class in Kent or Sussex Counties, contact Asia at (302) 393-2013 or

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Partner Spotlight: St. Patrick’s Center

St Patricks volunteers

Danny (right) and Forrest (left) help in the St. Patrick’s food pantry.

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

St. Patrick’s Center in downtown Wilmington has been meeting the most basic needs of our community since 1971. Under the leadership of Executive Director, Joe Hickey, the center provides emergency food, transportation, homeless respite services, recreational activities, a clothing bank and much more to some of Wilmington’s most-vulnerable populations.

Whether one is in need of a hot breakfast, warm shower, blanket or emergency food box, St. Patrick’s is a judgement-free center. All are welcomed regardless of their position in life.

Seniors and adults with disabilities depend on the Center for transportation to medical appointments.

Families are the largest population served at St. Patrick’s, says Hickey. “If a hungry family needs food or warmth, we bring them in and take care of them.”

St. Patrick’s has experienced a significant increase in demand for services over the past year. On average, the center services approximately 1,200 households each month through its emergency food pantry. In October 2012, 908 households were serviced, however, in October 2013, 1,562 households were serviced – an all-time high for the agency.

Hickey says St. Patrick’s is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.

Every day the organization’s truck is out on the road picking up donations from local retailers.  And meat is the center’s most popular item, says a committed volunteer named Forrest.

Retired, Forrest volunteers five hours of his time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He says the best part is “putting a smile one someone’s face.” He works alongside Danny, an employee of St. Patrick’s, and the two are just amazed by the numbers served.

“When I started [seven years ago] we didn’t get this many people,” says Danny.

With increased demands for services, St. Patrick’s now utilizes a part-time social worker who connects visitors with other community services, such as healthcare, nutrition, job training and housing assistance.

Hickey says he’s thankful for the partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware.

To help stock pantries like St. Patrick’s, please consider hosting a Share a Second Helping food drive this winter! Our goal is 100,000 pounds by February 28. To learn more, please click here.


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Partner Spotlight: Christian Storehouse

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The Christian Storehouse in Millsboro may be off the beaten path, and even though it’s a block or so off busy U.S. 113, for more than two decades it’s been a destination for those in need of food. It’s also a local landmark for the community that supports it through donations or by shopping at the agency’s thrift shop.

12_15 Christian Storehouse photo1webSteve Smith, director, who has been with the Christian Storehouse since its humble start as an emergency food pantry, can elaborate on the changes he’s experienced over the years.

“It came into existence to meet the needs of those in need. We operate on stewardship principles. We not only help with food, we help with electric bills, water bills, prescriptions,” he said.

Rachel Pusey is credited with founding the Christian Storehouse as an outreach of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; early on, five local churches supported the mission. Now there are 16 supporting congregations.

“In the early years, we served the entire county including Georgetown and Milton, but now it’s just the 19966 zip code only,” said Smith.

Christian Storehouse administrators also work closely with the state service center to meet the needs of households.

Today, people in the community donate clothing and home furnishings to the thrift shop on Mitchell Street. Proceeds from those sales help fund operating expenses.

“Until July, we served 250-275 families a month, regularly. In September, October and November, we have been inundated,” he said, pulling sheets of records from his desk drawer.

Those documents show that the Christian Storehouse helped 365 families in September, 379 in October and 408 in November.

“Where are the jobs? It’s been six years, and now where are the jobs? We’re a seasonal economy, and we a12_Christian Storehouse Photo2webre seeing people we have never seen before. Electricians, plumbers, they can’t find work,” he said.

“I think the increasing need is going to be massive. We are just beginning to see the increase.”

In addition, Smith explained, more elderly people are coming in for assistance.

“It’s very difficult for them, but we do more than just hand them food. We establish relationships, and we embrace them. We do this year ‘round.”

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Partner Spotlight: Calvary Assembly of God

11-27 calvary meal By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

On a cold, damp and dreary Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, the lobby of Calvary Assembly of God was transformed into a warm and welcoming dining room, complete with twinkling lights and white tablecloths.

Nearly every seat was occupied for the church’s soup kitchen, serving up home-made chicken soup and biscuits to senior citizens.

Margaret Young, th11-27 calvary01e church’s benevolence director, was not surprised by the large turnout on a day on which these seniors also receive supplemental food delivered by the Food Bank of Delaware.

“They come early; some come in as early as 8 for the fellowship. It’s their chance to meet other people,” said Young, adding that 32 volunteers collect and distribute the food “and, of course, a kind word.”

“Volunteer facilitators mingle and talk with people who want a caring conversation,” she said.

The fourth Wednesday of each month, with the exception of December, is designated for senior citizens, and draws just over 100 people on a regular basis.

That’s a number Young expects to grow in the wake of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP11-27 calvary MAIN.

“Since the SNAP cuts, we have seen a significant increase in calls, 42 percent after the first week. People told us they had their benefits reduced, and we are swamped,” Ms. Young said.

More demand for services won’t deter this mission.

“We are focused on serving the community. We are a microcosm of the community, and Pastor (Roland) Coon communicates that from the pulpit,” she said.

This small army of volunteers works year ‘round, and not just during the holiday season.

“Hunger does exist, not just on Thanksgiving or Easter, but on March 2 or whenever.  And everyone can help by just dropping off a few extra cans to a local food pantry. Everyone can help by giving a dollar or a can of food. We all have hungry neighbors in need.”

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