Category Archives: Hunger-Relief Partners

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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Partner Spotlight: Greater Wilmington Adventist Community Services

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Working in an office setting most days, I don’t always see the direct impact that our organization has on so many in our community. As a provider of services to Delawareans through a network of 477 hunger-relief program partners, Food Bank office workers, like myself, don’t always see the faces that benefit directly from these important services. Two weeks ago I got out of the office and went to visit one of our largest providers of hunger-relief services, Greater Wilmington Adventist Community Services (GWACS).

GWACS distributes every Wednesday out of Ebenezer Baptist Church’s fellowship hall in Wilmington’s Northeast section. A team of dedicated volunteers, led by Richard Geer, provide food and clothing assistance to area residents each week.

Last month alone, the organization provided services to 1,469 individuals. Richard points out that the numbers are increasing, despite reports that our economy is improving. He says that about 50 percent of the households that visit the pantry receive monthly benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and any further decrease in benefits will be detrimental to the families served.

In the first hour of my visit, 75 households had already been served. As I talked with the volunteers, we were greeted with hellos and lots of thank yous as individuals walked along a table of items choosing the foods best suited for their household.
That particular day, visitors chose between a variety of canned goods, cereals, pastas and perishables such as bakery items, breads, fresh produce like tomatoes and apples and even hummus.

Ida Brown, a volunteer since the program’s beginning, happily distributed baked goods to families and also encouraged them to try hummus, “it’s a dip, and it’s good on crackers! You’ll like it.”

Most of the food for the weekly program comes directly from the Food Bank of Delaware. Ida along with Maddie Tyson visit the Food Bank each Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. to pick up the items needed for the Wednesday distribution. The ladies help out every Tuesday and Wednesday and rarely miss a day.

In addition to picking up from the Food Bank, Ida and Maddie along with Joseph Miller, the driver of their 17-foot U-Haul truck, pick up from Little Sisters of the Poor and BJs.

“Wherever there is a pickup we go and get it,” explains Ida. “We pack the U-Haul from top to bottom.”

Their Wednesdays begin at 6:00 a.m. so they can set up both the clothing and food distributions prior to the 9:00 a.m. start time. When I arrived at 8:45 a.m., families were already in line.

“The community would be hurt without these services,” says Ida. “The number has certainly increased in the past month. Each week we see new people.”

She points out some new visitors to me, “I think I have already seen 10 or 12 new people.”

As a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for 53 years, she has seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood. She explains that need for assistance has only increased during her time with the church.

Many of the individuals visiting the food pantry are seniors. Mary Taylor visits the pantry each week and says she would have a difficult time without GWACS.

“I sometimes cut back on food in order to get medicine,” she explains.

Between the assistance she receives from the food pantry and monthly SNAP benefits, she is thankful, but her budget is tight.
GWACS’ operation would not exist without volunteers.

“We are old and tired, but when we hear from visitors that what we do is a blessing, that makes the day,” says Ida.

Check out some pictures from my visit!

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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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Partner Spotlight: Cape Henlopen Food Basket

cape henlopen food bankBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The Food Bank of Delaware cannot distribute food to one in four Delawareans without the support of partner organizations like the Cape Henlopen Food Basket.

Situated about a block off busy Del. 1 in the Rehoboth Beach resort community, the Cape Henlopen Food Basket serves between 220-240 hungry families each month, says board president Jon DeVoll.

Some come for emergency food, while others need supplemental food to help get them through the month.

With the SNAP cut that took place on November 1, it is expected that more families will be reaching out to already-strapped organizations like the Cape Henlopen Food Basket for supplemental help.

The Cape Henlopen Food Basket, founded in 2002, is a partner agency of the Food Bank of Delaware; its clients must be residents of the Cape Henlopen School District.

About 85 volunteers from the Lewes Rehoboh Association of Churches work regularly behind the scenes to stock shelves, maintain required records and lend a helping hand.

DeVoll says the agency has grown from a humble beginning over the past 11 years,  starting in a small space on Savannah Road in Lewes and then moving near the New Life Thrift Store further north on Del. 1.

This agency moved to its current site in January, and now shares a building with the Community Resource Center.

“That’s been good. They work hand-in-glove with us,” DeVoll said.

As he spoke, volunteer Jim Judd packed boxes while Clare MacDonald prepared to handle registrations when the doors opened at 10 a.m.

The Cape Henlopen Food Basket serves clients from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Three volunteers staff each shift: one collects data at the door and the other two pack boxes.

“We never turn anybody away, but clients can only get emergency food three times in a three-month period. We send them to state social services,” he said.

“The clients we see represent the general population.”

Judd noted there was no more canned ravioli on the shelf, and Mr. DeVoll suggested he substitute chili.

“We encourage donors,” Mr. DeVoll, adding that several local food drives, including those connected to a craft fair and tennis tournament, were hugely successful.

“People do this on their own. It’s amazing to me,” he said, noting that the agency has recently received several very generous cash gifts as well.

“Ninety percent of our budget goes to food. We’re all volunteer; there are no salaries, but we do have administrative costs. Pest control is a big one, so is electricity. These freezers generate a lot of power.”


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