Category Archives: Nutrition

Eat Smart, Live Strong at the Harrington Senior Center

0521_seniors01 (2)By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Enthusiastic students came out for the second class of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Eat Smart, Live Strong program held at the Harrington Senior Center.

The program is designed for seniors. Asia Thurston, Community Nutrition Educator, engages the participants for an hour, offering helpful suggestions on how to set healthy goals and also how to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and 30 minutes of exercise into their daily routine.

Since this is the second class, Asia asked for some feedback. In the first class, she provided participants with a system to track whether they ate one and a half cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables each day. They were also asked to note how much time they were engaged in exercise or activity each day.

“Everybody says they see a difference,” Asia said.

Asia explained that fruits and vegetables offer vitamins, minerals and increased fiber, while exercise improves balance while providing more energy and decreasing stress and anxiety.

“It reduces the risk of falling,” she added.

After the review, Asia addressed some challenges to the both the nutritional and fitness aspects to program. And she also offered solutions.

For example, some seniors may be concerned about the cost of produce. Asia suggested fruits and vegetables could be more affordable at a farmers market or free from their own garden.

She also responded to common objections that people find to exercising, including physical limitations or the cost of join a gym. So she provided some low or no-cost solutions to those stumbling blocks.

And like traditional classes, this one ended with the instructor assigning homework so these students could maintain their commitment to incorporating healthier eating and more activity in their lives.

For more information about programs offered by the Food Bank of Delaware, visit

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Food Bank of Delaware, Delaware Department of Education release Breakfast First, a statewide school breakfast report

Educators and anti-hunger advocates gathered yesterday afternoon at Highlands Elementary School for the release of the Food Bank of Delaware and Delaware Department of Education’s Breakfast First, a Statewide School Breakfast Report.

The report identifies that only 52.1 percent of Delaware’s children who receive free or reduced-price lunch also participate in school breakfast programs at their school.

In Delaware, children experience food insecurity in more than one in four households. With just more than half of eligible children receiving breakfast at school, tens of thousands of children who could benefit from a healthy start instead reach their school desks with empty stomachs.

“Guided by innovative and compassionate superintendents, principals, teachers, custodians and nutrition staff, schools throughout Delaware are rising to the challenge through a simple, yet effective strategy: moving breakfast into the classroom,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We know that breakfast in the classroom works. Seaford Middle School has increased breakfast participation by 481 percent just by serving breakfast to all in the classroom.”

The Red Clay Consolidated School District has embraced increasing breakfast accessibility by implementing a Grab and Go model where children “grab” their breakfast in the cafeteria and head to class to eat and receive instructional time.

“The reality is some of our children leave school and will not have another meal until they come back the next morning,” said Red Clay Superintendent Mervin Dougherty. “There are too many obstacles for our children today. When our kids don’t have to worry about things we take advantage of, they excel.”

Highlands Elementary Principal Robert Farr shared a story to explain why school nutrition programs are so important, “One day a student was misbehaving. I asked him to come to my office. I sat him and down and asked him, ‘why do you come to school?’ The little boy replied, ‘I come to school to eat. We don’t have any food to eat.’ This reminded me how important it is that our kids have nutritious meals here at school.”

The Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Teachers Association support increasing access to school breakfast for children.

“A whole school buy-in leads to success for breakfast,” advised Aimee Beam, Education Associate, School Nutrition Programs for the Delaware Department of Education. “Valid research shows that school meals have a significant impact on student performance. Kids who eat breakfast have higher test scores, decreased visits to the nurse and fewer behavioral issues.”

“Educators may be leery about breakfast in the classroom, but anecdotal evidence shows that it’s virtually mess free and increases instruction time,” said Delaware State Teachers Association President Frederika Jenner. “Breakfast is more than just the most important meal; it’s the gateway to school success.”

The report delves into school and district-level data to highlight success, as well as identifies common barriers and opportunities for improvement. It shares best practices from successful schools, including Wilbur Elementary School in the Colonial School District and Seaford Middle School in the Seaford School District.

Dan Reyes, Coordinator of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Coalition to End Hunger and co-author of the report, encouraged attendees to use the report as an advocacy tool. “Review the report and identify schools where improvement is needed,” he said. “Encourage educators to take the steps needed to make breakfast free and accessible to all children.”

To read the report in its entirety, visit

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SNAP Education class helps local residents rethink sugar

 ???????????????????????????????By: Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern

On Tuesday April 15, Wilmington residents at the Career Team Job Training and Vocational Rehabilitation Center located on the Riverfront in downtown Wilmington were educated on the affects of added sugar in their foods. Leah Brown RD, our Community Rethink Your Drink 1Nutritionist, presented a class, “Rethink Your Drink,” that gave attendees a closer look at how the added sugar in their foods and diets, specifically drinks, can affect their overall health.

Leah instructed students on how adding extra, unnecessary sugar into their daily diets through unhealthy drinks like soda, juice and sweetened iced teas can lead to weight gain, diabetes and a multitude of other health problems.

Rethink Your Drink 2Participants were asked to guess how many teaspoons of sugar were in various drinks and many were surprised at the high numbers. They then took part in a demonstration where they poured the teaspoons of sugar into plastic cups so they could visualize the amount. One student said after learning how much sugar was in 20 ounce bottle of soda, “I am never drinking soda again.”

The participants in the class gained a lot of knowledge and had many important takeaways. They learned that sugar should be limited to 10 teaspoons a day for adults and 8 teaspoons a day for children.

Participants discovered that sugar has other names like sucrose, dextrose, lactose, glycerol, xylitol, corn syrup and fructose corn syrup. So when reading the ingredients list, they should look out for those key terms. And if they see those key terms at the top of the ingredients list that means that sugar is a main ingredients, which is not good.

Participants also learned that foods that are low in fat and low in salt are not always healthier, because more sugar is often added to these foods to make them taste better. So participants should avoid those foods.

The class was an eye opening experience for many participants. Many already knew that soda, juice and sweetened ice teas were not good for them!

SNAP-Ed classes are offered multiple times throughout the month at community centers, churches, day care facilities, schools and other similar venues and targets SNAP recipients or SNAP eligible individuals.

For more information on SNAP-Ed classes or to schedule a session please click here.

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Smart Choices from the Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was unanimous – the fritatta was a winner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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LANA the Iguana

IMG_6919Meet LANA (Learning about Nutrition through Activities) the Iguana, the newest member of the Food Bank’s Nutrition Education team! Lana is a loveable iguana who only eats fruits and vegetables! Yesterday she accompanied Alina Wade, our Community Nutrition Educator, on a visit to the Absalom Jones Head Start program for preschool-aged children. Lana and Alina visited four classes yesterday!

Lana is no stranger to the kids at Absalom Jones! She was greeted with lots of hugs and kisses, as yesterday was her third visit to program.  The cute little iguana loves fruits and vegetables and shares her enthusiasm for healthy eating with the children!

LANA the Iguana was developed by the Minnesota Department of Health to help children learn to taste, eat and enjoy more fruits and vegetables. The goal of the LANA Preschool Program is to help young children eat more fruits and vegetables each day to promote good health, healthy weight and reduced risk of chronic disease

Yesterday, children were introduced to the apricot. But before they started, a brief review of last week’s featured vegetable, broccoli! Last week, the children had a chance to make their own miniature broccoli forrest by standing broccoli florets up in a cup of dip. Reviews were mixed on the broccoli sample they tasted, but one preschooler shared with the group that while she doesn’t like broccoli, she does like horses!

Each session is only 30 minutes long to keep the children engaged and focused. Yesterday Alina read, Lana Plays a Trick on Tenzin. After the story, children were asked if they knew about the apricot. Alina explained that apricots grow on trees. To show where their food comes from, the group played “pin the apricot on the tree.” The children lined up, closed their eyes and did their best to get the apricot on the tree! Before long it was time to say goodbye to Lana and Alina. Lana departed to a sea of preschool hugs and kisses!

Next week when Lana and Alina visit they will continue to learn about apricots. Using dried apricots pretzel rods and raisins, the children will create apricot “bugs!”

To learn more about Lana the Iguana, please contact Alina Wade, Community Nutrition Educator, at or (302) 292-1305 ext 210.

Check out some pictures from yesterday’s visit with Lana!

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Doc & the Chef – hosted by Matt Haley and Dr. Uday Jani

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Was I surprised to see a full-house for a cooking class on a Monday night in Lewes!

More than 130 people turned out for the first Doc & the Chef class hosted by Matt Haley and Dr. Uday Jani.

Matt, the owner and executive chef at SoDel Concepts, was recently honored with the prestigious James Beard Humanitarian Award. His restaurants include Fish On! in Lewes where the event was held, and six other fine dining restaurants in coastal Delaware.

Matt has developed a solid relationship with Chef Tim Hunter, Chef Instructor for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford. For us, the relationship is valuable in that our students, depending on where they live, may work their two-week internship in one of those fine restaurants.

Dr. Jani, named as one of Delaware Today magazine’s Top Doctors for 2013, is a Lewes-area internists, specializing in integrative care.

So when I saw an announcement for this free class, I immediately called and signed up, and I was not disappointed, nor was anyone else, I’d say.

OK, so how much is covered in an hour? I came home with ideas for healthy and delicious food preparation. . . ways to cook beets, brussel sprouts, and also how to use them in salads. Matt suggested adding roasted pecans and walnuts or raw lentils to salads as well. He cooked while he spoke, and in his own relaxed and laid-back style offered hints on everything from olive oil to turmeric and black pepper.

The chef suggested ways to economize, minimize waste and make creative pairings, such as the green beans, mushroom, garlic and curry combination.

Although they had a mission, the pair took a relaxed tag-team approach, with Dr. Jani and his wife, who was on the sidelines, contributing interesting, practical ways to incorporate lentils, quinoa, flax and hemp seed in our meals.

Here’s one reason why Matt was honored with the Beard award:  at the door, those attending were asked to make a $10 contribution to The Global Delaware Fund, a not-for-profit managed by the Delaware Community Foundation.

Global Delaware provides financial support for essential needs, for counseling and scholarships. Beneficiaries have included the Food Bank of Delaware, La Esperanza, Delaware’s foster children and Pranjal Children’s Academy in Nepal.

No date or location has been announced for the next in this series.

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