Category Archives: Programs

Food Bank partners with First State Community Action to bring food and education to residents

08_Pinetown02 By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The damp, drizzly weather didn’t keep folks away from a Monday afternoon meeting at the Pinetown Civic Center near Lewes.

Residents of the Pinetown community welcomed friends from Coolspring and Coverdale to learn more about programs available through a partnership between First State Community Action Agency and the Food Bank of Delaware.

Many of those attending were senior citizens eager and interested in free programs that enhance their quality of life.

For example, Charlotte McGarry, programs director for the Food Bank of Delaware, encouraged seniors to register for our Senior Nutrition Program, or Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Eligible seniors receive a box of shelf stable food, including juice, protein, cheese and milk each month.

“It’s great to use these items to supplement your pantry,” Charlotte said.

She also urged community leaders to consider other Food Bank programs that provide healthy snacks and meals for neighborhood children participating in after-school enrichment activities.

In addition, Charlotte said, Food Bank staff will assist eligible residents who want to file for SNAP benefits.

The highlight of the afternoon was a mobile pantry distribution in which those attending could select about 70 pounds of food for 0908 Pinetown01 (2)personal use.

Patricia Beebe, Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO, was on hand for the distribution.

“We are so pleased to be able to partner with First State Community Action. We share similar missions, and that is to eradicate hunger and poverty in Delaware. When we’re all focused on the same thing, I have no doubt we can achieve that goal,” she said.

Bernice Edwards, executive director at First State Community Action, echoed Pat’s sentiments.

“The partnership provides an opportunity to benefit us all. I call it the holistic approach,” she said.

Best of all, those attending the educational workshop were delighted to be a part of the mobile pantry.

Evelyn Wilson, a retiree from the Coverdale community, obviously enjoys cooking. She said she planned to incorporate some of the vegetables into soups and use the raisins in her box for bread pudding.

Joyce Gibbs, a Pinetown resident, was happy to stock up before she left for her job as a school bus monitor.

“It really helps out,” she said, noting that she especially appreciated the bread, cereal and juices.

Since hitting the road in March 2013, the mobile pantry has serviced 4,500 families throughout the state.

For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware, visit

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Chase presents $58,000 to Food Bank of Delaware in support of Culinary School

CheckChase presented a $58,000 donation to the Food Bank of Delaware yesterday at La Fia Bakery + Bistro + Market to help continue supporting The Culinary School, the Food Bank’s 14-week culinary employment training program.

The success of The Culinary School is dependent on both corporate and culinary partnerships. To highlight these partnerships, the check presentation was held at La Fia. Since opening its doors in the LOMA section of Wilmington in March, La Fia has played an active role in developing The Culinary School’s students. Most recently, Owner/Chef Brian Sikora hired Culinary School graduate Andrew Morley on a full-time basis.

“We are proud to support The Culinary School,” said Sikora. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Andrew as an apprentice and now a full-time employee. Supporting our community is what we are all about at La Fia.”

“Small businesses are a key engine of job creation, and JPMorgan Chase helps connect small businesses – and local residents – with the resources they need to grow,” said Daryl Graham, Vice President, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud partners to the Food Bank and First State Community Loan Fund because of their focus on growing our local economy and increasing job opportunities in the City of Wilmington.”

“We were happy to be able to offer a loan to La Fia, which provided some of their startup capital. They’ve been great borrowers,” said Vandell Hampton, President and CEO of First State Community Loan Fund. “Connecting with the Food Bank has been good for La Fia, as it has enabled them to identify top caliber employees as the business grows.”

Since its inception in 2002 The Culinary School has graduated close to 400 students. The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First, students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry. Second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

“We can always count on Chase to help ensure that Delawareans have the job skills training needed to find sustainable employment,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Thanks to their support we will be able to provide 10 Delawareans with scholarships to attend our training program. Our graduate, Andrew, was recently hired full-time here at La Fia. He is a great example of the wonderful opportunities that exist through our program.”

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Kevin Deler

Kevin TCS Class 37When Kevin Deler was a high school student at Mt. Pleasant High School, he visited The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware as part of a career exploration field trip.  His visit sparked his interest in the culinary arts. Since graduating high school in 2007, Kevin has worked in both the construction and dining services field.

After being laid off from his seasonal job in a dining hall this spring, Kevin was ready to expand his knowledge in the culinary field. He was accepted as a student at The Culinary School with full funding.

With aspirations of becoming a restaurant chef, Kevin is taking advantage of every opportunity he can through The Culinary School.

“Chef Nicole [Wilson] is a good instructor,” he says. “She has taught me a lot. A lot of terms that I needed to know out in the working world.”

Kevin and his classmates are getting an early start in a real working kitchen with their Monday internship experience. Every Monday, students spend the day in the kitchen of a local restaurant or food service provider. Kevin was lucky to land an internship at the new Westin Hotel in Wilmington.

Since starting his internship at the Wilmington Riverfront’s first and only hotel, Kevin has applied his classroom experience to a working kitchen. Techniques he learned in class, like mire poix and braising, are helping him in the Westin’s kitchen.

“At the Westin I have been prepping and working closely with Chef Chris,” Kevin explains. “He has been teaching me a lot.”

In addition to general prep work, Kevin is also assisting with banquet meals.  Once his 12 weeks of instruction at the Food Bank are complete, Kevin will intern at the Westin for a full two weeks. He and his classmates will graduate on Tuesday, September 9.

Kevin’s favorite dishes to prepare are steak and ribs and says the most valuable skills he has learned so far are knife skills and cooking techniques.

“The Culinary School has done a lot for me,” he says. “I am learning a lot. I am on the right track in terms of getting my goals together for my career. I want to become a chef, and I am taking the steps to do that.”

To learn more about The Culinary School, including information about becoming a student and supporting the program as an internship or employment site, please visit

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Lana the Iguana hits the road this summer teaching healthy eating

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

We all know that kids learn through play, so what better way to reinforce healthy food choices than through some fun and games?

That’s where Lana comes in.

Lana the Iguana, perceived as a puppet by grownups, visits pre-schoolers in child care settings to talk about eating fruits and vegetables every day. Lana, of course, is accompanied by her own adult, one of the members of the Food Bank of Delaware’s SNAP-education team, when she goes on the road.

On Thursday morning, Lana and Laura, a Summer Nutrition Educator working out of the Milford branch, crossed a busy Airport Road to visit pre-schoolers at the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club.

These boys and girls loved Lana and had no clue that her name was an acronym for Learning About Nutrition through Activities. They didn’t care because Lana and Miss Laura made the half-hour activity playful and interactive.

Kids learned about planting seeds, watering gardens and harvesting carrots. They talked about which vegetables they liked and which ones they didn’t care for.

The message was visual, interactive and inclusive, so that at the end of the program, each child got to take home a booklet and then had an opportunity to give Lana a hug before she left for another gig.

To schedule this program, and other age-appropriate SNAP classes, contact Leah Brown at or (302) 292-1305, ext. 210 in New Castle County or Asia Thurston at (302) 393-2013 or in Kent and Sussex Counties.

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Volunteering at the Milford Branch

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Lyndsay Humphreys, volunteer coordinator at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch, had to hit the ground running when she started her new job here Memorial Day weekend.

Summer is the busiest time of year for the Food Bank because that’s when summer meal programs start up. Volunteers are needed to prepare and pack meals in four-hour shifts each and every weekday. Meals are distributed throughout the state to kids who may not have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session.

This is not only Lynday’s first summer of meal production and packing, but the Food Bank’s first time preparing and packing summer meals in our brand-new kitchen and volunteer room! Thanks to generous donors, we completed our $2.6 million capital campaign last summer and cut the ribbon on our newly-expanded building in September 2013.

Lyndsay, a resident of Georgetown, is no stranger to working with the volunteers who keep the operation going effectively.

She came to the Food Bank of Delaware from another non-profit agency, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, where she worked as volunteer coordinator.

An AmericCorps alumna, Lyndsay shares a great story about how she became involved in not-for-profit work.

“When I was 14, I took a mission trip with my church to Appalachia, and I fell in love with service. It was a major life-changing event,” Lyndsay said, describing her experience in Appalachia.

She continued to volunteer through high school, and then signed up with AmeriCorps, a national program that provides career paths through service positions. AmeriCorps members also earn money for their education.

Her church, Grace United Methodist Church in Millsboro, goes on a mission trip every other year, and this year, Lyndsay led the group of 30 volunteers.

Lyndsay’s job is active and very physical, but this mother of two young children likes that.

“I rarely sit down, and I like being all over the place, doing three things at once. I like talking to people. Every four hours, new people walk through the door. It’s nice meeting new people,” she said.

Because of her own personal experience, Lyndsay is well aware that for many young volunteers their time packing and sorting at the Food Bank might be their first foray into the world of serving others.

“With the kids, I am planting a seed, and I told them that this could have a big impact later on. I encourage youth to come in. This is the busiest time of year, and there is so much we could be capable of doing if we had the volunteers. It doesn’t matter if they are 7 or 107, they can come in,” she said.

“In a four-hour time slot, you feel like you’ve made a difference.”

Volunteers are needed all year-round at the Milford Branch. Volunteer activities range from preparing and packing meals for children, to sorting food donations and packing meal boxes. Want to join Lyndsay in the volunteer room at the Milford Branch?  View all of our available volunteer hours and sign up to help by visiting

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Dave Coverdale

Dave CoverdaleBy Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

Students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware come from all walks of life. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Coverdale, who is enrolled at The Culinary School in Newark.

Dave, born and raised in Bear, DE, has always enjoyed cooking. He has experience in the banking industry and decided to go back to school for the culinary arts. Dave did some research and found information about the school and proceeded to enroll.

Dave has gained a great deal of knowledge in his short time here at The Culinary School. From kitchen terminology and kitchen etiquette, to knife skills and how to use professional cooking equipment, our culinary students are taught it all. Some of his favorite dishes he has learned to prepare are mirepoix, clarified butter, roasted garlic, roux and soups, as well as stocks.

Dave is currently excelling in both the kitchen and classroom. Wanting to gain experience beyond the walls of the Food Bank volunteered his time to help grill burgers and hot dogs at Woodside Farm Creamery’s annual National Ice Cream Day celebration and is doing a variety of culinary tasks  at the Our Lady of Fatima festival.

Dave’s training is not limited to culinary techniques and knife skills; he is also learning life skills, like working with different types of people, which are needed to excel not only in the kitchen, but in his day-to-day life.

Dave says that The Culinary School has impacted his life in “a very positive way, inside and outside of the class.”

Ready for a career in the food service industry? The next class in Newark begins September 22 (Milford class begins August 18). To learn more about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.

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A visit to our nation’s capital to advocate for the Summer Food Service Program

By Charlotte McGarry, Programs Director

Wow! What an amazing day! Yesterday I had the honor and privilege to speak before Senate staff at a briefing to educate lawmakers about the Summer Food Service Program. This educational opportunity was important as lawmakers begin to discuss the Summer Meals Act of 2014. As I departed the Wilmington train station en route to our nation’s capital, I was feeling excited, but extremely nervous. This was my first time speaking to national leaders about a program that helps so many children in our country during the summer months.

Feeding America and Share Our Strength invited the Food Bank of Delaware to speak given our long history and success with the program. Since 2002, we, along with our partners and volunteers, have provided millions of meals to children at risk of hunger in our state.

During my 10-minute talk I spoke about the need, challenges and successes of the program from the perspective of a sponsor. As a sponsor,  we are responsible for locating and recruiting meal sites, hiring, training and supervising staff and volunteers, arranging meal preparation and delivery, monitoring sites, and preparing claims for meal cost reimbursement from USDA.

Yesterday’s presentation was intended to show members of Congress that it’s time to make adjustments to Summer Food Service Program processes developed in the 60s and 70s.  As we all know, families’ needs and dynamics have significantly changed since then. It’s time to change the processes in which we serve children summer meals.

In Delaware only 20 percent of children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school participate in the Summer Food Service Program. Participation is not only low in Delaware, but on a national level. Lack of transportation and general awareness are two major barriers that hinder participation.

In order to reach more children, USDA has funded several demonstration grants to try alternative ways to provide meals. The Food Bank of Delaware, along with the Delaware Department of Education successfully managed one of these projects.

The Grab and Go alternative service method was so successful that we were able receive three years of generous funding from Our Family Foundation.  During this second year of private funding and fourth year of the program our staff is faced with the sad truth that the need for this style of meal service outweighs the funds.

We urge Congress to support their constituents by instituting the changes necessary for children throughout our nation to have the opportunity to participate in Grab and Go and other innovative meal delivery programs.

To learn more about the Summer Meals Act of 2014, please click here.

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