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Reflecting on my internship

By Mackenzie Rowe, Communications Intern

I have really enjoyed interning at the Food Bank of Delaware for the past few months. I now have a deeper understanding of how vital the Food Bank is to the success of the community.  FBD does so much more than distribute food. The variety of programs offered here, such as The Culinary School, SNAP-ed and the Mobile Pantry, show how connected FBD is to its vision of a hunger free Delaware. These programs prove that FBD understands how intertwined social issues, such as poverty and education level, are to hunger. Instead of simply distributing food, FBD provides hope for participants in these programs. I think that my time at the Food Bank has shown me how to realistically create social change. These issues may seem very difficult to fix when looking at the big picture, but change is accomplished one person at a time. Positivity has the potential to spread quickly if the foundation is there. That is exactly what FBD attempts to do, to give struggling Delawareans the necessary foundation to create a better future.  

This experience has given me a glimpse into the non-profit sector. Throughout my internship I have been exposed to many different programs, meetings, events and people. This exposure has allowed me to gain knowledge about the structure of FBD. As an indecisive college student, my career goals change frequently. This internship has given me some direction. I have learned about jobs that I had no idea existed. Although I am still not sure where I will end up working, it is comforting to know that there are more options for rewarding careers than I had previously thought. My favorite part of the internship has been getting to know the employees at FBD. Their humility is inspiring and I know that I will remember that mentality as I consider what I would like to do after graduation. I have truly learned the importance of having an intrinsically rewarding job. This lesson will stay with me as I navigate my way through the world post-graduation.

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Culinary Spotlight: Linda Coleman

By Mackenzie Rowe, Communications Intern

photoThe Culinary School’s 35th class started their program on October 7th. Among the new group of students, is 51 year old Linda Coleman. After reading about The Culinary School in the News Journal, Linda decided to apply. At first she was reluctant to make such a big career change, but after coming in for an interview and hearing more about the program her worries subsided.

Linda has a wide range of experience. In the 80’s, she worked as a head waitress at a restaurant. This is her only previous experience with the food industry. After that, she spent sixteen years working in the banking industry, purchasing limited partnerships and working with investments and liabilities. Then, she was employed as a representative of a medical billing company. Since she has only seen the restaurant business from the outside, Linda is eager to learn about the production of food. She explained, “So far, I have lived life as a consumer. I am excited to move from a consumer to a producer.” Another favorite part of the program for her is getting to know her classmates and seeing all of their unique talents. “I try not to mother them too much,” she said with a laugh.

“I love the way that Chef talks about real life situations.” Linda told me, “When I look back at my neighborhood, I wish that we had a program like this closer. I do believe that it could be a crime prevention technique.”

Outside of the classroom, Linda loves spending time with her family. She is grandmother! She also loves to travel and, of course, eat new foods while exploring. Some of her favorite places include: Manhattan, New Orleans, Charleston and the Dominican Republic. Regardless of location, her favorite meal is a Caesar salad, chicken fettuccini and tiramisu, with a glass of moscato to wash it all down. After graduation, Linda hopes to open her own kitchenette to serve breakfast and lunch in her neighborhood.

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Delaware Ranked #12 in Food Hardship Study

By Mackenzie Rowe, Communications Intern

091115_FAA-633webThe Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) conducted a Food Hardship study from 2008-2012. They collected data for the nation, states, regions and Metropolitan Areas as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project.  Over the course of four years, Gallup polled 1.8 million households. There were a range of issues presented in this survey. The question that FRAC used for this study was “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” If the answer was “yes” then that household was filed as experiencing food hardship.

Nationally, 18.2 percent answered “yes” to the above question. FRAC separated this statistic into two smaller categories, households without children and households with children. For households without children, the rate of food hardship is 15.1 percent. While 23.5 percent of households with children reported that they had experienced food hardship. To put this statistic in perspective, this means that nationally about one in four households with children have struggled to provide food.

Unfortunately, Delaware is one of the “Worst 15 States by Food Hardship for Households with and without Children.” On this list, DE ranked number twelve with a rate of 27.3 percent in households with children.  The first state on this list is Mississippi with a percentage of 31.5 and the last state is South Carolina with a rate of 26.7 percent. The rest of the states on this list are: Washington DC, Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

When the data is split into regions the Southeast had the highest percentage in both categories, 28 percent of households with children and 19 percent of households without children. In our region, Mid-Atlantic, both percentages were below national averages. 13.7 percent of households without children and 21.7 households with children reported food hardship. While there are obvious variations between states, almost all of the states reported over 20 percent for food hardship rates in households with children.

For full report, click here

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My Experience with the Mobile Pantry

By Mackenzie Rowe, Communications Intern

I have been an intern at the Food Bank since September. Before my internship began, I never considered how many people in Delaware are affected by hunger and poverty. As a sheltered college student, I spend basically all of my time in Newark surrounded by people just like me. We live in a bubble, with the perfect green and big brick buildings. We have dining halls and student centers conveniently placed around campus for whenever we get hungry. The vast majority of students do not realize how different the environment is just twenty minutes away. Caught up in classes, extracurricular activities and weekend entertainment, students remain on campus. Most out-of-state students never experience the rest of Delaware. For their four years, they remain ignorant to the people that live here permanently.

My favorite part of my internship is that I am no longer a part of this group. I have learned so much about hunger and the other socioeconomic issues that are intertwined. Last Thursday, I spent a few hours in Wilmington seeing the Mobile Pantry in action. We partnered with the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council and volunteers from Capital One. Participants attended a financial education session prior to receiving food from the Mobile Pantry. All households that get assistance from the Mobile Pantry attend an education session. This requirement encourages attendants to make positive changes. The combination of education and food distribution really seems to lift the spirits of those who participate.

This was the first time that I got to do direct service with the Food Bank. It was incredible to see this program in action and to interact with some of the people that the Food Bank helps. Their smiles and kind words helped me to understand why people choose to work for non-profits like the Food Bank of Delaware. Without such dedicated employees, these programs would not be as effective. After seeing how much work every employee here does to ensure that programs like the Mobile Pantry run smoothly, I have a much deeper appreciation and respect for the non-profit sector.

Check out some pictures from the event!

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Challenge offers some challenges

Food Bank of Delaware staffers started the SNAP Challenge on Friday, agreeing to live for one week on the $4.50 per day allotted to SNAP recipients.

Part of the commitment is to journal not just what they ate and when, but also how they felt physically and emotionally.

Seems like oatmeal is the breakfast of choice for most participating in the Challenge. The store brand is inexpensive and filling. Some folks, like Holly Johnson in Milford and Ashley Michini in Newark, budgeted for coffee, but substituted her regular brew with coffee from Dollar Tree.

Asia Thurston found that by eating three eggs for breakfast got her beyond lunch, so she ate just red beans and rice for dinner. Her journal shows that she was still full.

Others like Ed Matarese, Pat Beebe and Charlotte McGarry bemoaned the fact that the SNAP allotment doesn’t cover the snacks we all reach for from time to time.

Then, there are the distractions created by family members. While Charlotte’s family committed to the Challenge too, Pat had to decline nachos and beer during a football game.

Reading the journals, it’s obvious that the staff is maintaining a positive attitude while adjusting personal lifestyles to comply with the
Challenge guidelines.

The Challenge continues through Thursday, and with it comes lots of planning and some avoidance of social situations that offer plenty of opportunities to get off track.

 

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Fifth annual Evening in the Garden to take place September 5

The Food Bank of Delaware and University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community with the fifth annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, September 5 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The evening will feature wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries.

In addition, the evening’s menu includes garden-fresh foods straight from the Garden for the Community. Students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware will serve up eggplant polpettes, ratatouille, spicy grilled chicken with roasted corn salsa, fish tacos, soba noodles with Swiss chard, pine nuts and peppers, assorted desserts and much more. The UDairy Creamery will also serve ice cream.

“It’s hard to believe we are heading into our fifth year for Evening in the Garden,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Each year the event and our partnership with the University grows. Last year guests had a wonderful time touring the garden, enjoying foods prepared by our own students and tasting local wines and beers. We look forward to another successful evening of increasing awareness of the issue of hunger in Delaware and raising money to help alleviate it.”

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Food Bank of Delaware for the Evening in the Garden event,” said CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “We are very proud of the partnerships we have grown throughout the years with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Evening in the Garden is no exception. This event brings the community together to help support a great cause: the Food Bank of Delaware and their mission to provide food for struggling Delaware families.”

Sue Fuhrmann has attended the event since its inception and said, “Evening in the Garden showcases delicious, creative food, good wines, fun music, bountiful gardens to stroll and fine fellowship.  Even better, it supports local agriculture and job training efforts.  Not to miss!”

Tickets for the event are $40/person or $15/student (must show student ID). The price includes dinner, wine, beer and entertainment. Ticket prices increase by $10 on August 29. To purchase tickets, please contact Kim Turner at (302) 444-8074 or kturner@fbd.org. Online registration is also available at http://www.fbd.org/an-evening-in-the-garden/. Attendees are also asked to bring a bag of canned goods for the food bank’s hunger-relief efforts. To learn more about the Garden for the Community, please
visit http://ag.udel.edu/communitygarden/.

Check out pictures from last year’s event!

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SNAP-Ed Team Member Makes Impact on Marydale Residents

By Meghan Keating, Communications Intern

On Wednesday, January 30 I visited the Marydale Retirement Village in Christiana to sit in on a nutrition class taught by Scott Schuster, one of our Community Nutrition Educators. Scott focused the class on how to grocery shop on a budget. I sat in the back of the community center and observed as a group of about ten women wandered into the large room and took their seats one by one.

As Scott began his presentation, some of the women were a tad skeptical about what he had to say.  It is definitely not an easy task to try to educate a room of women on how to grocery shop on a budget when they have been doing so for decades. However, Scott did a great job!

He gave the group a survey to start and then covered a list of facts and tips on how to grocery shop smartly, such as using coupons, buying in bulk and favoring store brands over name brands. The once skeptical bunch slowly warmed up to the subject matter and began asking more and more questions. Some of their questions included cooking tips for diabetics and how to keep items such as eggs and milk from expiring too fast.

After the presentation was over participants were provided an opportunity to visit a table in the back of the community room where there was an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables for them to take home.
It was such a great feeling when multiple women came up to me after the class and said how much they had learned from Scott, especially how they couldn’t wait to visit the grocery store so they could execute some of the information Knowing that the class would make a difference in their lives was extremely gratifying to both Scott and me!

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New Beginnings

Culinary Student Reggie TaylorBy Meghan Keating, Communications Intern

This past Wednesday I sat down with Reggie Taylor, one of the current students at The Culinary School at the Food Bank. As we chatted, Taylor shared with me how he first became involved with The Culinary School, what he has learned so far, and how being a student at the school has changed his life.

Taylor first heard of the Food Bank and the Culinary School program through a work release center, and after paying a visit to our facility, decided it was the right choice for him, stating that he really liked the way it was run. Prior to being a student at the school, he worked in home maintenance and also served as an assistant warehouse manager. He says that what he likes most about the school is the fact that the staff is always there when you need them. It is a “crash course”, as Taylor puts it, and a lot of information is taught in a very short amount of time, but it is all about the work that you put in and how successful you want to be in the end.  He also states that some of the most valuable skills he has learned so far include becoming more oriented with how professional kitchens are run in comparison to home kitchens, including the factor of cleanliness.  This is something he says he never knew before becoming a culinary student.

Taylor was also a part of the group of students from The Culinary School who recently helped prepare the food for Governor Jack Markell’s Inaugural Ball.  He says participating in the ball was extremely exciting, commenting on how great the head chef at the Chase Center and his staff were to work with. Overall, he says it was an interesting and pleasant experience that he was able to be a part of.  One of his favorite dishes he’s prepared thus far, he says, was included at the celebration ; a tenderloin slider, which he states was very popular. In addition to the sliders, turkey meatloaf and chicken pot pie complete the list of Taylor’s favorite dishes he has prepared at The Culinary School to date.

Overall, Taylor says that The Culinary School has given him a sense of direction and a new beginning that will help him jump start a new career in the culinary world.

To learn more about The Culinary School, please visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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EPA welcomes Kenny Family ShopRite Stores and Food Bank of Delaware into the Food Recovery Challenge

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially welcomed new members into its Food Recovery Challenge (FRC).  EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge encourages organizations to donate and divert as much of their excess food as possible. Organizations that join EPA’s challenge find that they not only save money, but they also feed the needy, and help protect the environment at the same time.

The new members include: Five Delaware ShopRite stores owned and operated by the Kenny Family, and the Food Bank of Delaware, the states’ largest hunger-relief organization.  The official signing ceremony took place at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Newark facility.

“The Food Recovery Challenge is truly a win-win situation.  It benefits families in need, helps grocers reduce costs, supplies badly needed donations to organizations like the Food Bank of Delaware, and helps to create green jobs,” said  EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

“Today is America Recycles Day, and with Thanksgiving just a week away, this is an excellent time to raise awareness of this important issue.”

Food is the largest waste category in the U.S. going into landfills.  In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

“Recycling food waste reaps tremendous benefits here in Delaware and is vital to our goal of recycling 50 percent of municipal solid waste by 2015,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “Kenny Family ShopRites and the Food Bank of Delaware are leading the way as the first in our state to join the Food Recovery Challenge, helping alleviate hunger through more food donations to our needy citizens, creating local recycling jobs, saving businesses on disposal costs and reducing wastes going into landfills – improving our air and water quality.”                             

The Kenny Family ShopRites became interested in food recovery after attending an EPA workshop presented to the food industry.  As a result, the company began a composting pilot earlier this year, working with composting specialists Organic Diversion, of Marton, N.J. As a result of this successful partnership, the Kenny Family is expanding their composting efforts to all of their stores. 

As a new participant in the Food Recovery Challenge, Kenny Family ShopRites will continue to increase their composting and their food donations.

“We have been working with the Food Bank of Delaware and other charities to provide food to those in need since we opened in 1995. Through the Food Recovery Challenge we are finding new ways to reduce costs, reduce our environmental footprint, and help those across Delaware through increased food donations” said Melissa Kenny, sustainability manager, for the Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware.

Founded in 1981, the Food Bank of Delaware provides food for the hungry in the entire state of Delaware.  The Food Bank of Delaware provides food to food pantries, emergency shelters, low-income day care centers, after-school programs, senior centers, churches and other feeding programs.  Through a network of agencies, food-pantries, etc., the Food Bank serves 241,600 Delawareans each year.

“We are thrilled to partner with ShopRite on this important initiative,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “This partnership is a win-win for both ShopRite and the Food Bank of Delaware – by diverting healthy, fresh foods from the landfill we’re able to protect our environment, but most importantly we’re able to get good foods into the hands of those who need it most.”

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge go to:

www.epa.gov/foodrecovery.

Check out some pictures from today’s event!

 

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A closer look at household food waste

By Holly Johnson, Programs Assistant

Because I work for the Food Bank and see the struggles some Delawareans experience to put food on the table, I naturally pay attention to food-related topics. When I read a recent study about food waste in the U.S., I was astounded and dismayed. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, the average household throws out 20 pounds of food per person per month, and in the U.S. 52% of all food, farm to table, goes uneaten and ends up in landfills.  This is both an environmental and as social issue that needs to be addressed.  I decided that my family needed to experiment in our household to see what exactly we throw away and devise a plan to reduce our overall food waste.

 Meet the Johnson’s.  Mother Holly, 40-something Food Bank of Delaware Programs Assistant.   Father Don, 40-something Cargo Surveyor.  Son Drake, 18, chill Milford high school senior.  Daughter Zoe 13,  angsty Milford Central Academy 8th grader.  Everybody is on board with the experiment.

On September 1st, the first part of the experiment was to do a clean out of the fridge. Expired items were tossed (really expired items).  Best if used by dates were assessed and tossed if needed (that’s a related, but whole other subject). We tossed a total of 22 pounds of food.  We removed the food from the containers when possible before weighing.  We threw away a lot of condiments that looked like a good idea at the time, produce that was slowly molding in the back of the fridge and leftovers that looked nothing like the original product.

 The next task was to set ground rules.  Any waste that resulted from preparing a meal didn’t have to be counted – peels, cores, egg shells – all food leftover from restaurants had to be brought home, eaten or weighed and tossed unless it wasn’t practical.  We had a few instances where we were away from home and wouldn’t be able refrigerate in a timely manner so we had to estimate weight.  Kids reported any food waste at school.  Both are good eaters and very rarely don’t eat everything served.  Both said they had eaten everything.  I’m not sure I believe them, so I’m adding five pounds to the end of the month total.

After all was said and done we wasted a total of 34.75 pounds of food with  a five pound margin of error added for school lunch and breakfast. I think that if we were not paying attention we would have much more waste, so  the Johnson’s are probably bigger wasters than the above number indicates.   What we did learn was that the largest amount of waste after the clean out, comes from restaurants and over buying produce. Next month I will discuss the strategies we are using to keep our food waste to a minimum.

Check out some photos from our experiment!

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