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Grab and Go Spotlight: Sparrow Run

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

Hunger in our community is prevalent, especially during the summer months when school is not in session. For thousands of Delaware kids, meals served at school are sometimes their only source of nutritious food. Now that the school year is over, so are these meals. Fortunately, Giant Food has sponsored our Grab and Go summer meal program that allows children to pick up their meals and take them home to enjoy.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit Sparrow Run, a neighborhood in Bear. Child Inc. runs the Sparrow Run Grab and Go program and provides services to at-risk children and their families.

CHILD Inc. Program Manager Victoria Schetrom organizes the meal program at Sparrow Run. She says she is known as the “lunch lady” of the neighborhood!

One-hundred-eighty-four kids pick up breakfast and lunch each weekday between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The kids love the Grab and Go format because they are able to eat their lunch at home versus sitting at the community center’s outdoor picnic table. (As you can imagine, some days are just simply too hot for an outside meal!)

When we visited Sparrow Run both kids and their parents were lined up to pick up their meals. A reusable insulated bag was provided by the Food Bank at the beginning of the program, and each day, kids return with their bag to receive their next round of meals. Coolers line Child Inc.’s driveway and a dedicated youth volunteer and a Child Inc. employee distribute the meals, a breakfast and lunch for each participant.

Just by looking at the faces of the kids, I could tell they love picking up their Grab and Go meals. In addition to distributing meals, Child Inc. also provides a great environment for families of Sparrow Run and surrounding communities on Route 40 in Bear.

Thank you, Giant, for making the Grab and Go meal program possible!

To learn how we are serving the needs of children this summer, please visit http://www.fbd.org/program/children%e2%80%99s-nutrition-program/sfsp/

 

 

 

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Growing Fresh Produce at Penn Farm

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

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As we all know, fruits and vegetables are a very important part of our daily diet. Unfortunately, for many families across the state, accessing produce proves to be difficult. Thanks to our partnership with Penn Farm and other local farmers, that will hopefully change.

According to Delaware Greenway’s website, “the Historic Penn Farm is a 310 year old, 112-acre private urban land trust of the Trustees of the New Castle Common, managed by Delaware Greenways, Inc.”

In addition to the plot of land tended by volunteers and staff from the Food Bank, William Penn High School students also have a plot of land that they tend to.

According to Dan Reyes, Coalition to End Hunger Coordinator here at the Food Bank, the main goal of Penn Farm is to “improve and increase role of produce in distribution.” He adds that the Food Bank is working to create dynamic, sustainable partnerships with food pantries in the area by donating fresh produce grown on the farm.

Operations at Penn Farm are currently in their first year. The farm is modeled after a program at the Chester County Food Bank, where their main focus is getting fresh produce out into the community.

Our plot of land consists of many different types of produce, including cabbage, kale, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, beets, watermelon and cucumbers. All of the work is done by a team of volunteers and our Agriculture Intern, Sara Somers. Last week alone, volunteers harvested 125 pounds of cabbage and kale. Peppers will be ready next for harvesting.

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The produce grown at Penn Farm is helping us gain experience in storing our own produce, as well as providing Delawareans in need the opportunity to receive fresh, locally-grown produce. This farm helps us, as well as community members, think about hunger on a larger scale and how it is connected with farming and agriculture. Concepts like Penn Farm and community produce donations

really do help in improving the healthy diets of those in need.

To view volunteer opportunities at Penn Farm, please click here, to learn more about donating produce, please click here.049058

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Partner Spotlight: Zion Lutheran Church

By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

As the Communications Intern for the Food Bank of Delaware, my boss and I take field trips every sooften so I can see the different aspects of how the Food Bank of Delaware works and serves our community. On Tuesday, Kim and I visited the food pantry at Zion Lutheran Church in Wilmington. Zion’s food pantry is operated by our partner,Lutheran Community Services.

The food pantry is a well-oiled machine run by Minnie McGuire.  As the coordinator, she manages the back office, the kitchen pantry and the client interactions. When I arrived, they were in the midst of distribution. I first met Minnie and Sandy Betley, Programs Director for Lutheran Community Services.

Minnie says Zion serves people of all different backgrounds. Many are seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Volunteer Anne assists Minnie in the office by taking phone calls from referring agencies, managing the incoming paperwork, and keeping track of the clients served.

Anne has been volunteering with the food pantry for more than 10 years and remembers shopping at the local grocery store in order to stock the shelves of the pantry. Thanks to Zion’s partnership with Lutheran Community Services at the Food Bank of Delaware, they are able to use the resources of both agencies to make sure their clients’ needs are met.

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“I do it because I think I am helping people,” she says.

After learning more about how Zion handles paperwork, we proceeded to the kitchen where I met Richard, who was the only volunteer available to pack bags full of household food staples. Richard and his wife utilize food assistance services, and he told me that he loves volunteering at the Zion Food Pantry. He said, “After all they’ve done for me, this is how I can give back.”

From my visit, I learned that each food closet of the Food Bank of Delaware operates differently. Some pantries provide pre-packed bags or boxes, while others provide families with the opportunity to choose from a variety of items.

At Zion, clients must sign in upon arrival. Clients are referred to Zion from local organizations
and state agencies. Referral papers are organized in the office and then brought back to the kitchen, where bags are stocked with the required groceries that meet the clients’ needs. Their food is delivered to them in the main lobby, and their name is checked off in the book after they sign a release form that they have received their food.

While in the waiting area for the clients, Kim and I encountered a young woman named Lisa, and she told us her story. Lisa is a single mother of three children. Unfortunately, her children’s father does not help to support the kids.  She has been in and out of school, trying to complete a degree in psychology, while supporting her children. Lisa also told us that the summer is the most difficult time for affording food, because her children are home and out of school. Providing two extra meals each day during the summer adds an extra expense to her household budget.

“My job is to stress out,” she explains.  “My kids’ job is to go out and get a good education and live a better life than I do. I do the struggle for them
, by walking to the food pantry.”

Lisa says there have been times when she has skipped meals in order to provide her children a full nutritious meal.

Visiting the Zion Food Pantry in Wilmington was a very enlightening experience and shows the important role the Food Bank of Delaware and its network of partners play in the community.

If you are in need of emergency food assistance or know someone in need, please dial 2-1-1 for Delaware 2-1-1. They will refer callers to a local organization that can assist.

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Christmas In July at Boscov’s

christmasinjuly-santa-drinking1By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

This summer, the Food Bank of Delaware is partnering with Boscov’s department stores all over the state to help families in need. From July 1st – July 31st Boscov’s department stores located in the Dover Mall, Concord Mall and Christiana Towne Center will be hosting a Christmas in July food drive to benefit families and children in need during this upcoming summer season.

This food drive was started to help children in need who do not have access to the meals that they need and would be receiving during the regular school day. This has become a major focus for us here at the Food Bank during the summer months.

Boscov’s will be accepting donations of canned or non-perishable food items, as well as toiletries at the courtesy desks within any of the mentioned Boscov’s locations. Specific items needed include coffee, juice, spaghetti, pasta, rice, macaroni & cheese dinners, instant potatoes, breakfast cereal, peanut butter & jelly, sugar, flour, oil, pancake mix & syrup, laundry and dish detergents, spaghetti sauce, canned fruits vegetables, canned meats such as tuna, ham and chicken, stew and pasta meals, soup, beans, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving products, soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, paper towels and tissues.

For more information about the food drive, call Sarah Haas, Regional Public Relations Manager at (610) 565-6009 and ask for Public Relations, or email her at shaas@boscovs.com.

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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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