Category Archives: Volunteer

Grab and Go summer meal program at High Point Mobile Home Park

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It didn’t matter that the thermometer registered at least 90 degrees and the heat index was 101.

Gaij Copes was ready to lend a hand at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Grab and Go program in his neighborhood.

Gaij, age 12, will enter the 7th grade at W.T. Chipman Middle School in Harrington this fall, but he’s no stranger to volunteering.

Missy Holochwost, Senior Nutrition Coordinator/Mobile Pantry Coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware, is his mother.

The Summer Grab and Go Program complements the Food Bank’s existing nutrition services to reach an underserved population of children who are unable to access our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at traditional distribution sites.

Providing adequate nutrition during the 10-week summer vacation is a challenge as these children scatter throughout the community with limited or no access to summer nutrition programs.

Children who reside in rural or isolated settings are unable to benefit from the meals provided at traditional SFSP meal distribution sites.

Such is the case at High Point Mobile Home Park, a community of 406 homes located adjacent to the state’s major north-south highway, but not within safe walking distance of a school or church.

So five days a week, Gaij rides his bike to meet the Food Bank van where he helps the driver unload coolers and checks off those who are enrolled in the program as they pick up breakfast, lunch and beverages.

Because of his mother’s work, Gaij is familiar with the Food Bank’s mission.

“I like helping people,” he said, adding that he also assisted in the sign-up process by delivering flyers with enrollment information door to door.

As a result, at High Point, there are 27 signed up and a waiting list of 10.

Bob, the site manager at High Point, praised the Grab and Go program.

“I like the program, and I’m glad people are talking advantage. It’s running smooth, and for me, it’s nothing extra,” he said.

The current program has been made possible by a 3-year, $300,000 grant provide by the Our Family Foundation.


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Summer volunteers needed

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Volunteers are needed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Newark and Milford facilities to help assemble and pack meals for children enrolled in various summer programs.

Sign up is easy and can be done online. To volunteer to help with the Summer Food Service Program, members of the community may visit and sign up for a shift during the months of June (starting June 13), July or August (program ends in the middle of the month).

“Our volunteers are so important to us at the Food Bank of Delaware, and obviously to children throughout the state,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe.

“Nutritious meals that are also appealing to kids are delivered to child-care facilities, children’s programs, summer camps, faith-based organizations, neighborhoods and more. For children in need, these meals are essential to their health and success,” she added.

No experience is necessary, but volunteers should be able to stand for extended periods of time. Shifts are operated throughout the day Monday through Friday and some occasional weeknights and weekends.

The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Delaware Department of Education, provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to low-income children in the summer when access to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch meal programs are not available.

To help bridge the nutrition gap during the summer months, the Food Bank provides these nutritious meals for sites that feed hungry children.

This summer, the Food Bank of Delaware will deliver more than 200,000 meals to children during the 10-week program. To learn more about becoming a children’s nutrition site, contact Dan Jackson, Hunger Relief Coordinator at (302) 444-8128 or

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Starbucks volunteers pack 7,500 meals at Milford Branch

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Last Wednesday, Delawareans at risk of hunger benefitted from a dedicated team of 28 volunteers from Starbucks (also our 2014 Group Volunteer of the Year!) who came out to spend a morning at our Milford Branch.

There was a sense of enthusiasm in the Bistro as the green-shirted team members listened to a warm welcome from Chad Robinson, the Milford Branch Director. Matt Brandi, volunteer coordinator, explained the day’s work assignment.

Before heading to the volunteer room, Dana Krieg, a Rehoboth Starbucks store manager, took volunteers on a coffee journey to the mountainous regions of Peru in an exquisite Starbucks Reserve “Cold Press” tasting paired with a delicate combination of both sweet and savory offerings.

After the tasting, the group headed to the volunteer room.

Starbucks partners really embraced the challenge as they sorted, packed and stacked a record-breaking meal count: 7,500 meals or 9,000 pounds.

Jeff Danley, regional district manager for Starbucks in Delaware and Maryland, reports that to date, this event contributed to the now over 32,000 packed meals processed by the Starbucks and SiTEL families (one of Starbucks’ vendors!).

When all the work was finished, volunteers were treated to a fantastic lunch prepared by Chef Tim Hunter and the newest class of culinary students.

The Food Bank of Delaware appreciates the positive attitudes and helping hands of each and every volunteer. Anyone who is interested in contributing as a volunteer can find more information on our website by clicking here!

Check out more pictures from Starbucks’ volunteer day!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Kayla White

Kayla WhiteApril is Volunteer Appreciation month, but here at the Food Bank of Delaware we appreciate and love our volunteers every month out of the year! We can’t serve one in four Delawareans without their support.

To date this year, we have had 16,219 volunteer visits for a total of 44,030 donated hours! Volunteers come to the Food Bank for a multitude of reasons. Some volunteers come during the work day as part of a corporate team, others are members of scout troops or faith-based organizations, while some are students who need community service hours. Regardless of their reason for being at the Food Bank of Delaware, we appreciate the contributions of all of our volunteers.

Kayla White falls into the student community service hour category. She started volunteering at the Food Bank in mid-December as part of her Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program at the University of Delaware. Her reasons for choosing the Food Bank of Delaware were simple – the Food Bank is close to her home!

Kayla can be found in the Newark volunteer room on Mondays or Wednesdays. She’s done a little bit of everything, including sorting donated food, packing emergency meal boxes and plastic bags for the Backpack Program and more!

“I like to give back to those who are not fortunate to have a meal everyday,” she says. “It makes me feel good to volunteer and makes me appreciate what I have. No matter how bad you think you have it, someone else has it worse. We all might as well help while we can.”

Thank you, Kayla, for your contributions!

Are you a student in need of community service hours? The Food Bank of Delaware has flexible volunteer hours with a variety of dates and times! As we head into the summer months, we will need volunteers to help us prepare and pack meals for children who participate in our Summer Nutrition Program! To learn more, visit



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Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Combs

Kathy Combs Volunteer SpotlightVolunteers are the heart and soul of our organization.

Kathy Combs started volunteering at the Food Bank just three weeks ago, but has already demonstrated her commitment to a hunger-free community. Kathy’s interest in hunger was sparked through a class she is currently taking at Wilmington University. She wrote a paper on food insecurity and researched the Food Bank’s impact on the local community.

“I was really interested in the Food Bank’s programs,” she explains.  “They have a lot of innovative programs that address the issue of food insecurity and hunger in Delaware. I was very impressed with just the statistic of how many people are hungry in our state. The Food Bank addresses the problem from a lot of different innovative angles. They are not just supplying food, but also [offer] a lot of innovative programs on how to get food to people.”

Kathy has been helping out in the Newark warehouse a few times each week. Some typical projects she helps with include packing bags full of weekend food for at-risk children who participate in our weekend Backpack Program and packing food boxes for senior citizens who participate in our monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Kathy says that volunteering makes her feel good.  “I enjoy meeting others here and finding out why they like to volunteer.”

She enjoys it so much that she’s working to schedule a time for both her family and coworkers to come in to help out on a Saturday.

Thank you to Kathy and the thousands of other dedicated volunteers who visit our facilities each year!

To learn more about volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit


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Volunteer Spotlight: Sister Jackie Hood and Sister Yasmin Ransom

0328_volunteer photoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

April is volunteer appreciation month! We can’t feed one in four Delawareans without the dedication of volunteers.

Our volunteers lend a hand for many reasons and come from all walks of life.

Even so, it is a bit of a surprise to learn that two young ladies who help pack children’s meals on a weekly basis at the Milford branch are thousands of miles away from home.

Sister Jackie Hood is from Farmington, Utah and Sister Yasmin Ransom hails from Fresno, California.

Currently residents of nearby Harrington, they are a missionary team with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

It was somewhat serendipitous that they selected the Food Bank as part of their service.

Sister Ransom said the two were driving by and happened to see the sign from Airport Road.

“We were encouraged to service,” she said. “We pretty much do whatever is asked.”

So for the past nine weeks, the two missionaries come once a week. In addition to their other daily church-related responsibilities, they help out at the state-sponsored Job Center in Harrington.

Sister Hood and Sister Ransom said they were called into the 18-month mission to teach the gospel face to face and to introduce people to their church.

Matthew Brandi, volunteer coordinator at the Milford branch, says he welcomes these volunteers.

“They come in, and they know what to do,” he said.

Volunteers are always needed, and new volunteers can sign up online. Visit our online scheduling site,, or contact the volunteer coordinator at (302) 393-2011 or For opportunities in New Castle County, please contact (302) 444-8075 or

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Volunteer Spotlight: Debbie Vagonis

Debbie Vagonis picture

by: Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern 

Debbie Vagonis has been a dedicated and attentive volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware since December 2013. Debbie chooses to volunteer here at the Food Bank because its mission is important to her and close to her heart. “Food is a basic human need and no one should have to go without it,” she says.

Debbie participates in numerous volunteer activities, “I sort donated food, create donated and emergency meal boxes, put together children’s food backpacks, stock shelves for Shopper’s Choice, and senior supplemental food boxes,” she states.

Debbie also helps with clerical needs here at the facility, “I help with mass mailings and scoring surveys and data entry for the SNAP Program.”

Debbie feels that her time spent volunteering at the Food Bank is necessary and also appreciated. “I know I’m helping others in need. It makes me feel uplifted, enriched and inspired.”  She quotes famed author Elizabeth Berg saying, “There is incredible value in being of service to others.”

Debbie hopes that others will follow her lead and begin to volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware as well. “It is a very rewarding experience to know you’re making a difference in people’s lives. Let’s fight hunger together,” she states enthusiastically.

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Share a Second Helping this winter with Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table

Anti-hunger advocates gathered this morning outside the Delaware Department of Labor’s Pencader office to launch Share a Second Helping, a winter-long giving/awareness campaign. The kick-off coincided with a mobile food distribution for individuals utilizing the unemployment office.

In response to a recent $16 million dollar cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Delaware and even deeper cuts to SNAP proposed by members of the United States Congress, the Coalition to End Hunger, Food Bank of Delaware, Delaware Health and Social Services and Delaware 2-1-1 encourage Delawareans to dig a little deeper this winter season to help families struggling to make ends meet.

“A sixteen-million dollar cut to SNAP is a significant cut for already-vulnerable populations, such as our children, seniors, people with disabilities and the working poor, “ said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “This cut is more than the entire yearly budget of the food bank. Already-strapped charitable organizations cannot fill the void of Congress’ inability to come up with workable solutions to the problems associated with poverty.”

DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said the state will work with the community to make up the gap left by the $16 million reduction to SNAP. “We have 156,000 Delawareans who receive SNAP benefits, up dramatically from the 72,000 people we served just five years ago,” she said. “In a country that has so much and so much to be grateful for this holiday season, we cannot sit back as a government or as a society and, in good conscience, allow people to go hungry. Our SNAP program is meant as a safety net, and yet we know of too many families and seniors who have to decide between food or paying for their utilities, medications or paying their mortgage.”

Share a Second Helping takes a three-pronged approach to assisting Delawareans this winter:

  • Gather food and monetary resources to meet the immediate food needs of Delawareans during the winter months
  • Educate at-risk Delawareans on available resources, including the services of Delaware 2-1-1
  • Work with elected officials and stakeholders to implement long-term solutions to meet these nutritional needs through a strong federal safety net

With a campaign goal of 100,000 pounds, the Food Bank of Delaware encourages individuals, businesses, community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and others to host winter-long food drives and fundraisers.

A recent study by the Food Research and Action Council shows that Delaware ranks 12th worst in the nation for food hardship amongst households with children. Witnessing firsthand these increased needs from the community, Delaware 2-1-1 fielded more than 100,000 phone calls from Delawareans in need of human services last year.

“Delaware 2-1-1 understands first-hand the basic needs of our neighbors,” said Delaware 2-1-1 Director Donna Synder White. “Monthly, we receive hundreds of calls from Delawareans and for years, the Food Bank of Delaware, and others partners, have utilized our easy 2-1-1 to connect people to food closest, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, senior centers, after-school and a host of other food programs so that no individual or family in the state goes without a meal to eat.”

Representative Ed Osienski and Senator Bryan Townsend were both on hand for the launch and are committed to advocating in Dover for a hunger-free state.

“If the cuts in unemployment claim extensions, which are being debated now in Washington, take affect then you’ll see a reduction in lines inside the Department of Labor unemployment office move outside to the mobile food distribution lines,” said Osienski. “Who will be providing the additional resources for that shift?”

“We must do more to support the many Delawareans who experience hunger on a daily basis,” send Townsend. “The holidays are a time when people often rally around these efforts, and certainly we should embrace holiday spirit and generosity in November and December. But every day of the year, a Delaware senior or child experiences sharp pangs of hunger. As the U.S. Congress proposes deep cuts to critical anti-hunger programs, we must become all the more vigilant about developing the kind of programs and distribution channels to help end hunger in our state, year-round, top to bottom, from seniors to schoolchildren.”

Central to the campaign’s advocacy component is giving Delawareans utilizing human services a voice in working to bring about systemic change.

“Share a Second Helping is not only about gathering the needed resources to get through the cold winter months, it’s also about coming up with solutions to effectively end hunger and battling negative stereotypes surrounding those in need of emergency food assistance,” said Coalition to End Hunger Chairwoman Julie Miro Wenger. “We are serving hard-working families, adults with disabilities, seniors who have worked their entire lives and children. We all play a role in ensuring that we meet the basic needs of families.”

To learn more about Share a Second Helping, please visit Information about food drives, fundraisers and advocacy can be found there. For individuals in need of emergency food assistance, please contact the Delaware 2-1-1 by simply dialing 2-1-1.



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Filed under Advocate, Donate, Face of Hunger, Hunger, Nutrition, Supporters, Volunteer

Capital One spends week of service at Food Bank of Delaware; donates $10,000

During this season of thanks, we are thankful for the amazing partnerships we have here in the First State. We can’t feed one in four Delawareans without the support of our community! Last month Capital One spent an entire week at our Newark facility for their annual week of service, OneWeek.

Three-hundred associates donated more than 900 hours of their time to help feed Delawareans during the week. They packed emergency meal boxes for seniors, packed meals for our weekend Backpack Program, assisted at our mobile pantry and donated $10,000 in order to create 600 meal boxes for our Thanksgiving for All distribution that will take place later this month!

“At Capital One we believe community engagement is more than just providing funding, and our associates are proud to volunteer with the Food Bank of Delaware during OneWeek and year round,” said Capital One’s Senior Manager of Community Affairs Leslie Kosek. “By giving of their time and talent, our associates are helping to improve the communities where we live and work.”

Last year Capital One donated $52,000 and associates collected more than 5,600 pounds of food through food drives. They have also proudly participated in our DelawareCAN competition every year since its inception in 2011!

“Capital One remains consistent in their support for a community free of hunger,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We can always depend on them to provide programming support, volunteers and food. We are grateful they chose the Food Bank as one of the locations for their OneWeek service project.”

Check out some photos from the week!

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More volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford

volunteer roomEvening volunteer shifts are now available at our newly-expanded Milford Branch!

The official opening of the 8,000-square-foot expansion has created more volunteer opportunities for area residents, both as individuals and groups.

Thanks to our $2.6 million expansion, the new volunteer room offers space for additional evening hours, from 4:30 – 8 p.m., in addition to the morning hours from 8-11 a.m. and afternoon hours from noon until 4 p.m.

Volunteer opportunities include food sorting, assembling bags of food for the Backpack Program and meals for children’s nutrition programs, clerical work and helping with general tasks in the volunteer room.

“We are excited about expanding our volunteer hours to include evening shifts. This will allow groups that previously may have not been able to volunteer with us on a regular basis to participate. This is a positive addition to the use of our brand-new volunteer room in Milford,” said Chad Robinson, our Milford Branch director.

Special arrangements can be made on Saturdays or Sundays for volunteer groups of 10 or more.

Volunteers can register online at or e-mail for more information.

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