Category Archives: Poverty

Harry K. Foundation, Food Bank of Delaware mark grand opening of Indian River School District school pantry at G.W. Carver Educational Center

Harry KThanks to a generous donation from the Harry K. Foundation, anti-hunger advocates officially cut the ribbon on the new school pantry at the G.W. Carver Educational Center this morning.

Funds were raised at last year’s Harry K. Christmas Ball. Support from the Harry K Foundation allowed the food bank to provide 103 children from Sussex County with a backpack full of food for the entire school year and to open nine new school pantries in Sussex County schools, including the one at G.W. Carver.

Through the program, at-risk families with students enrolled in the Indian River School District will be able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting the food pantry. The new pantry will offer a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items. Families will select food based on their household’s needs each week. Food for the pantry will be provided by the Food Bank of Delaware and school-wide food drives or community donations.

“Hunger is all around us and it is our civic responsibility to feed our people,” said Harry K. Foundation Founder Harry Keswani. “We are happy to work in cooperation with the Food Bank of Delaware and our local schools to feed our children and their families. We ask our local people and business owners to join us by donating to the Harry K. Foundation so that we can bring food pantries to more schools.”

“According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 18.3 percent of Delaware’s children live in food insecure households,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are thankful for the Harry K Foundation’s support to ensure that families in Sussex County have access to nutritious foods for their household.”

Child food insecurity is highest in Sussex County with 20.2 percent of children living in food insecure households.

“I am so happy that we have been able to open this and other pantries in our communities, but our task has only just begun,” said Harry K Foundation Spokesman Tim Buckmaster. “No child should go to bed hungry or worry about when the next meal may be. Together we can and will make a difference.”

“When our students’ basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are not being met, it is very difficult for them to excel at school and for their families to support their education at home,” said Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting. Our district parent center was created to provide families with the tools they need to support student achievement – both academically and personally. The food pantry will be a great extension of these efforts and an important resource for our district families.”

The second annual Harry K Foundation Christmas Ball will be held on Saturday, December 6 at the Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Tickets are $250/person and can be purchased by visiting http://www.harrykfoundation.org/Harry-K-Foundation-Ball.html. Proceeds will help fight childhood hunger in Sussex County.

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Food Bank services credited with improved outlook on life

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It’s hard to imagine that there is anyone more grateful for the services provided by the Food Bank of Delaware than Edward Hawkins.

This Dover resident had undergone some difficult and stressful times before a friend told him about Food Bank programs provided through Calvary Assembly of God, one of our 550 partners engaged in hunger-relief operations.

A Vietnam-era Navy veteran and former maintenance technician, Edward moved from Pennsylvania to Dover in order to be closer to his wife’s sister. He was injured on the job in 2008 and applied for disability benefits. His wife of 23 years became ill and died of cancer last year.

“At that time, I lost weight because I was not eating well. I was positioning myself to die,” said Edward, recounting the combined negative impact of grief and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A friend noticed his situation and suggested he connect with the Food Bank.

“I registered and got a box of food,” he said, and he wrote down what was happening in his life as he started on the road to recovery.

“I filled in the shortfall in my SNAP benefit allotments,” he wrote.

Edward, 58, shared the positive impact of the Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger-relief efforts with legislators in June when the Food Bank lobbied for state support in Delaware’s Legislative Hall.

He clearly loves to cook and eat healthy food and has embraced the Community Supported Agriculture program in which he received a box of farm-fresh produce at the Loockerman Way Farmers’ Market every Wednesday during the growing season. He was one of 149 families participating each week.

“That is a lot of good food they are providing,” he said. “I tell people that’s the reason I’m here, eating things like fresh greens.”

In addition, the fresh produce provides him an opportunity to try new foods and experiment with innovative recipes. He often offers his neighbors a chance to taste what he’s created.

“Healthy food can be so good, and I introduce them to something they’ve never had,” he added, sharing the preparation details of his impromptu entrees.

“I wish more people could be a part of the CSA. I know some people don’t know these programs are available,” he said.

To learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger-fighting programs, visit http://www.fbd.org.

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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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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:

Districts

  • 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

Charter/Nonpublic

  • 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 dreyes@fbd.org.

Check out some photos from the day!

 

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Registration open for Ending Hunger conference on April 7

Registration is now open for the second annual Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference scheduled for Monday, April 7 at the Christiana Hilton.

The all-day conference, sponsored in part by TD Bank and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, will focus on collaborative efforts to increase access to foods, educate families about available programs and using the state’s collective skills, resources and political will to end hunger. The conference will feature speakers from both state and federal government agencies, education, nonprofit, agricultural and other community-based sectors.

Joel Berg, a nationally-recognized media spokesman in the fields of domestic hunger, food security, obesity, poverty, food-related economic development, national service and volunteerism and Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, will provide keynote remarks during the conference.

Panels throughout the day will focus on community-based advocacy; the farm bill, federal policy and inequality; healthy food access; and funding for anti-hunger efforts.

“The one-day conference offers a unique opportunity to bring together key business leaders, faith based organizations, hunger-relief partners, educators, government officials and nonprofits all collaborating and working together toward real solutions to help empower people and create political will to end hunger in Delaware,” said Coalition to End Hunger Chairwoman Julie Miro Wenger.

“Last year’s event resulted in a lot of enthusiasm from a sold-out crowd for identifying ways to increase our state’s efforts to end hunger,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “As a result we have enhanced our Coalition, are working with educators to increase participation in school breakfast, identifying new ways to bring in more produce for low-income Delawareans and increasing outreach to individuals utilizing food assistance who can serve as advocates in the community. I am excited to see what ideas are generated from this year’s event.”

When: Monday, April 7, 2014; 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where: Christiana Hilton, 100 Continental Drive

Registration: Registration is $25/person and includes a continental breakfast and lunch

Agenda:

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.; VIP Breakfast (invitation only; featuring remarks from Rick Goff, Executive Director, Office of Children’s Nutrition, West Virginia)

7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.; Registration, Breakfast, Exhibit Tables

8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.; Opening Remarks

8:30 a.m. -9:00 a.m.; Announcement of School Breakfast Challenge, Secretary Mark Murphy, Delaware Department of Education

9:00 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.; Keynote address, Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger

10:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.; Community-Based Advocacy

11:15 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.; Farm Bill, Federal Policy and Equality

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.; Lunch

2:05 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.; Healthy Food Access

3:25 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Making it Happen – Funding

Complete panel descriptions and speakers, registration and more information can be found at www.coalitiontoendhunger.org.

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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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50th anniversary of the War on Poverty

ILGWU_workers_meet_Lyndon_B._JohnsonBy Matt Talley, SNAP Outreach Coordinator

This January marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, an idea set forth by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 State of the Union Address.

As he stood before a joint session of Congress, the 1960’s were already shaping up to be a time of radical and far reaching changes.  Movements were springing up around civil rights, LGBT rights, feminism and a host of other issues.  Many of the social problems haunting the country were made even clearer in the light of longstanding economic injustices suffered by disenfranchised segments of the American populace.  It was in this context that the President declared “unconditional war on poverty in America.”

Specifically, Johnson’s declaration was an appeal to the nation’s lawmakers – a call for legislation designed to attack poverty with renewed vigor by addressing employment, education, housing and health.  In the abstract, it seems like such a simple and beautiful idea.  Congress would help create job opportunities by allocating funding to improve schools and provide better training.  Congress would fund programs to combat urban decay and infrastructure rot and to enact contributions to programs to protect senior citizens.  And by creating safety net mechanisms such as a minimum wage, food stamps and unemployment insurance, Congress would help to ensure a basic standard of living for even the most disadvantaged households.

In short, Congress would use taxpayer money to invest in the success of current and future generations of Americans.

Unfortunately, this call for sustained and dedicated action has not reverberated through the decades.  Some degree of fervor, sympathy, and social outrage was lost during the 70’s and 80’s.  And by the end of the Reagan Administration, many of LBJ’s Great Society reforms had been cut up and transformed.

Now, fifty years after that historic speech, are we winning or losing the War on Poverty?  Maybe it’s a war that can never truly be won, with no clear lines drawn in the sand and no real enemy to admit defeat.  However, just take one quick look at the nation’s ever widening income disparity.  Look at the slow rebound from the Great Recession, especially for low-income households.  Look at the number of households reliant on programs like SNAP and LIHEAP.  It’s clear that the root causes of poverty have not yet been defeated.

On January 8, 1964, the President Johnson’s words echoed through the House chamber.  He spoke of “a unique opportunity and obligation—to prove the success of our system; to disprove those cynics and critics at home and abroad who question our purpose and our competence.  If we fail, if we fritter and fumble away our opportunity in needless, senseless quarrels between Democrats and Republicans, or between the House and the Senate, or between the South and North, or between the Congress and the administration, then history will rightfully judge us harshly.”

So let’s ask ourselves, fifty years after the War on Poverty was declared, how will history judge us?

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