Category Archives: Volunteer

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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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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Food Bank of Delaware celebrates grand opening of expanded Milford Branch

Ribbon CuttingWe cut the ribbon on our newly-expanded Milford branch this morning. The $2.6 million expansion includes the new Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware Culinary Kitchen, DuPont Volunteer Room and Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Culinary Classroom.

The expansion doubles the size of the existing 8,000-square-foot warehouse on Mattlind Way. The project, designed by Delaware Architects, and managed by Richard Y Johnson & Son, allows the Food Bank of Delaware to increase hunger-relief programming through the creation of a new volunteer room and train adults for the food service industry and prepare meals for the food bank’s Children’s Nutrition program through the new industrial-sized kitchen.

“We are so happy to welcome everyone here today, a day, that at times, we thought would never come,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We have this beautiful new facility, and it’s already being used. On September 9 we welcomed fourteen members of the inaugural class here at the Milford Branch. And best of all, I’m happy to report that the project is paid for in its entirety. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we didn’t borrow a penny for this project.”

Patricia was joined at the podium by Rita Landgraf, Delaware’s Secretary of Health and Social Services, Ellen Vollinger, legal director for the Food Research and Action Center, Senator Colin Bonini and other community and government leaders.

“Today, we are grateful for the services and support that this Milford Branch of the Food Bank of Delaware will provide to people who are hungry,” said Landgraf. “Across the state, the food bank and its network of hunger-relief partners serve more than 240,000 Delawareans – more than a quarter of the people who live in our state.”

“Nutritious food is a basic health requirement – a community that is hungry cannot be healthy,” said Tim Constantine, Highmark Delaware’s president. “Similarly, individuals need to have access to jobs to attain general well-being. Highmark Delaware is pleased to support this project, which addresses hunger from two directions – providing food for immediate relief, and providing job training to help people build a better future.”

“The Food Bank of Delaware is a recognized leader in the fight to end hunger in the United States,” said Vollinger. “The Milford Branch expansion strengthens its capacity to make a real difference for Delaware through greater volunteer involvement, direct service delivery, and policy advocacy.”

Guests enjoyed tours of the new facility and lunch prepared by students from The Culinary School following the ceremony.

The expanded facility now allows us to accommodate larger volunteer groups during both day and evening hours, for a list of available opportunities in Milford, visit To learn more about The Culinary School, please contact Brenda Palomo, Culinary Program Manager, at (302) 424-3301 ext 107 or

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Help Strike Out Hunger

Strike Out Hunger LogoBy Caitlin Custer, Donor Outreach Coordinator

The Food Bank of Delaware has again been invited to participate in Perdue’s Strike Out Hunger on Delmarva for the Delmarva Shorebirds’ 2013 season. For this initiative, Perdue challenges the Food Bank to raise $10,000 worth of food, funds and volunteer hours during the regular season, which they will match, and provide up to an additional $5,000 earned through the Shorebirds’ strikeouts. The $15,000 donation will then be split amongst three food banks, Maryland Food Bank, Foodbank of the Eastern Shore and the Food Bank of Delaware.

Help us to feed hungry Delawareans and meet the challenge set by Perdue and the Delmarva Shorebirds! We are looking for individuals, businesses and service organizations to hold food drives to help us reach our goal.  Those who collect more than 20 boxes/bags of donated food may make arrangements with us to have donations picked up. In an effort to save money on transportation costs, we ask that donations of fewer than 20 bags/boxes be dropped off at either of our facilities!

Some of the our most needed items include:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Soups, stews, and chili
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats
  • Pop-top microwaveable meals (raviolis, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.)
  • Cereal
  • Fruit cups
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Pasta
  • Rice

In addition to food drives, the community can get involved by organizing fundraisers or volunteering at the Food Bank’s facility in Milford.  Also, for baseball fans, if you go to a Sunday Shorebirds game for “Strike Out Hunger Challenge Sundays” and bring two non-perishable food items, you will be able to purchase a general admission ticket for that game for only $2. The food collected will then be evenly distributed among the three participating food banks. You can also donate food at the stadium during any home game by dropping food off in any of the marked collection barrels.

For more information about Strike out Hunger, please contact me at or (302) 292-1305 ext. 253. To schedule a time to volunteer at the Milford facility, please check out and look for shifts labeled Strike Out Hunger!

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Food Bank of Delaware volunteer named one of Governor’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award winners

Devin Volunteer of the YearBy Trevor Turner, Lead Volunteer Coordinator

We love all of our volunteers at the Food Bank of Delaware! We can’t serve one in four Delawareans without them. Milford Branch Volunteer Coordinator Matthew Brandi and I were honored to attend last week’s Governor’s Youth Volunteer awards dinner at Dover Downs! It was an extra special night as one of our own, Devin Hopkins, was honored for her contributions to alleviating hunger in Delaware!

Devin is considered to be a “lead” volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware.  As a lead volunteer, Devin takes charge of the group and shows them exactly what needs to be done. (These are groups she also organizes with her mother to bring to the Food Bank).  She assists our Milford staff in managing the operations of the volunteer program. While other  students are spending their afternoons in front of the TV or computer, Devin spends each afternoon at the Food Bank or another organization helping to alleviate hunger or striving towards the mission for another good cause. There is no typical task for Devin at the Food Bank of Delaware – she does what needs to be done and does it to the highest standard.

Devin oversees the packing of our After-school Nutrition Program.  This program provides nutritious meals and snacks to after-school programs.  Food for the program is prepared in the Food Bank’s Culinary School kitchen.  Thanks to Devin and other volunteer support, we distributed 346,629 meals through our After-School Nutrition Program last year.  If that isn’t amazing enough on its own, Devin also oversees the organization of our food sorting/stocking program.  When food is donated to the Food Bank of Delaware we are required to “check in” the items.  This process requires Devin to check the expiration dates of the items to ensure older items are salvageable for human consumption.  She also inspects the integrity of the product to ensure that there is no damage that could compromise the food within its packaging.  Through the successful implementation of this program, the Food Bank of Delaware was able to distribute 6.2 million pounds of food.  Without the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Devin, our programs would suffer, and we would be unable to efficiently and effective help the 241,900 Delawareans who currently rely on our emergency food assistance services.

Reliable, passionate and dedicated - that’s Devin.  The quality of Devin’s work is first class, especially when considering her young age. Thanks to Devin’s commitment and dedication, less Delawareans struggle to put meals on the table and can better stretch their budget.  Devin is a unique young volunteer and a remarkable role model.  If everyone in the community were as service minded as Devin, we would have no difficulty achieving a community free of hunger.

Devin has a passion for helping Delawareans as she volunteers not only at the Food Bank, but other organizations as well.  Devin is involved with the Global Aid Network, Coastal Cleanup, Make a Difference Day, her local church (Calvary Wesleyan) and the Milford CP.  Devin dedicates every day to make a difference where she can in her community.  Devin has already been the recipient of the Presidential Gold Service Award for the past two years.  Devin is undoubtedly a future community leader! Thank you, Devin, for your commitment to a community free of hunger!



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Food Bank of Delaware honors outstanding contributors at annual dinner

Last night we celebrated the individuals and organizations who have gone above and beyond in our fight against hunger in Delaware. More than 150 supporters packed our Newark warehouse for an evening of entertainment from Pearl Street and a dinner prepared by students from The Culinary School. The evening closed with recognizing eight outstanding organizations/individuals. The following individuals/organizations were honored last night for their contributions to alleviating hunger in our state.

Community Work of the Year – Nancy Cueto: Nancy is dedicated to the mission of our organization. She plays a large role in ensuring that our programs are organized and that all paperwork is filed. We can’t serve Delawareans without the support of people like Nancy. She works out of the Milford Branch four days a week and ensures that all rosters and menus are printed for our After-School Nutrition sites, counts returned rosters to ensure accuracy, updates names on the roster for the Department of Education and more. She also assists the SNAP Outreach and Education programs. Nancy is committed, passionate and always going the extra mile!

Group Volunteer of the Year – Capital One: To date this fiscal year, 292 Capital One volunteers have donated 931 hours of their time at our Newark warehouse. From packing bags full of food for our Backpack Program to sorting food and creating meal boxes for our Senior Nutrition Program, Capital One volunteers can always be counted on to help us feed hungry Delawareans. In 2012, the company (then ING DIRECT) spent its Orange Days of Caring by donating $20,000 to the Backpack Program and volunteering to create 500 school supply kits and more than 2,500 food bags for the program. Volunteers also spent many hours collecting food for its large pecan pie slice made entirely of cans for our 2012 DelawareCAN competition.

Board Member of the Year – Julie Miro Wenger: Julie Miro Wenger is Executive Director of the Delaware Food Industry Council and has played an important role in heightening awareness of our organization within local grocer circles and the general public. She serves as Chairwoman of the Anti-Hunger Coalition and helped orchestrate the very successful Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service Conference in April 2013. Julie is also responsible for organizing the Parade to Fight Hunger, the official opening of the Wilmington Grand Prix. As part of Wilmington Grand Prix weekend, Julie organizes the Chase Challenge, an event sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. Julie goes above and beyond as a board member. She is an advocate for a community free of hunger!

Corporate Donor of the Year – Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware stepped up to support the Food Bank’s Milford Branch expansion project. This year the organization committed $250,000 to cover more than half of the expenses to outfit the new kitchen with equipment. The Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware Culinary School Training Kitchen will be used to prepare meals for children in after-school and summer nutrition programs in Kent and Sussex counties and also house The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. The funding from Highmark results from its BluePrints for the Community commitment, a grant program to help address the issues faced by Delaware’s uninsured and underserved populations.

Food Donor of the Year – Delaware National Guard: Back in 2008 the Delaware National Guard declared a “War on Hunger” here in the First State. The initiative was spearheaded by Major General Frank Vavala, and since its inception, the servicemen, women and their families have collected more than 20 tons of food for hungry Delawareans. Last spring the Delaware National Guard partnered with First Lady Carla Markell to open the food drive to members of the public during her week of service. The Delaware National Guard has demonstrated ithat it is committed to Delawareans through their efforts not only on the international front, but locally as well. We are thankful for their sacrifices to protect our freedom, but also their commitment to our vision of a community free of hunger.

Advocate of the Year – John McMahon, Department of Labor: Department of Labor Secretary John McMahon has played an important role in the success of The Culinary School. Since the school’s inception in 2002, the Department of Labor has been a major source of funding and student referrals. Over the past two fiscal years the Department of Labor has provided more than $152,000 in student funding. In November 2012, Secretary McMahon served as keynote speakers for the 31st graduating class. He praised the graduates for their commitment to furthering their educations. In addition, to his work advocating on behalf of The Culinary School, Secretary McMahon also makes it a priority for his department to support the Food Bank in other efforts.

Partner of the Year – Bayshore: The team at Bayshore is always dependable. One call from the Food Bank is all it takes for them to assist with fulfilling our mission. Bayshore goes above and beyond the call of duty. In May 2012, Bayshore provided tractors, trailers, drivers and logistical support for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Letter Carriers food drive. Because of their help, we were able to greatly reduce our expense for this annual food drive. Bayshore will step up again for the 2013 drive on Saturday, May 11. In Fall 2012, Bayshore stepped up to deliver much needed supplies to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in northern New Jersey and New York City. We are thankful for the support Bayshore provides as a logistical partner. We can’t do all that we do without their support!

Legislator of the Year – Representative Ed Osienski: State Representative Ed Osienski has been supportive of the Food Bank long before becoming an elected official. Since the election, Representative Osienski has advocated on behalf of hungry Delawareans in Legislative Hall. He is supportive of legislation that impacts low-income populations, and in May 2012, he hosted our staff at legislative hall for a legislative day. Representive Osienski sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 49 recognizing our commitment to ending hunger in the First State. He also serves as a member of the Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition, organizes volunteer opportunities for members of the Delaware House and conducts food drives and mobile pantries throughout the year.

Thank you to all who support the Food Bank of Delaware and our vision of a community free of hunger! Check out some photos from last night’s event!


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