Category Archives: Poverty

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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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 awade@fbd.org.

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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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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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