Summer meals at Wilton Park

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Thanks to a generous grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation, we are able to offer free meals through mobile meal sites to our community this summer! Lanier Williams, our Mobile Meals Summer Driver, travels from community to community in New Castle County delivering meals to children. In addition to our mobile meal sites, we provide meals to 90+ other sites up and down the state.

Lanier begins the day by packing his van with tables, chairs and coolers filled with meals and milk. The coolers are all packed by a dedicated team of volunteers, and all of the meals follow the guidelines for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). A park coordinator meets Lanier at each stop to help set up tables and chairs and distribute meals to the kids.

Last Friday, I stopped by the mobile meal site at Wilton Park in New Castle. Located in a highly residential area where hundreds of kids live, a mobile meal site in the park is a perfect spot. When I arrived, there were already many kids playing in the park, patiently waiting for the mobile meal van’s 1:30 p.m. arrival time.

The van pulled up at 1:30 on the dot – right on time! Lanier, and Kirsten, our Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, began unloading the van and setting up tables and chairs in a nice shaded area. As soon as the kids saw the back door of the van open up, they came running!

Lanier and Kirsten distributed cups of balsamic chicken, a bread stick, fruit and milk. The kids loved the meal!

Once the meals were gobbled up, the kids cleaned up their trash and darted back to the playground and basketball courts. Thanks to ConAgra’s generosity, the kids had full bellies for the rest of the afternoon!

More than 15 children enjoyed a free meal at Wilton Park on Friday, and Lanier says the number of kids grows each day as word spreads.

Mobile meals are available at the following sites:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
Hudson State Service Center, Newark
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Monday-Friday
Dickey Park, Newark
12:00 p.m.

Monday-Friday
Centennial Park, Bear
12:45 p.m.

Monday-Friday
Wilton Park, New Castle
1:30 p.m.

To find other meal sites sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware and other statewide partners, dial 2-1-1, text FOOD to 877-877 or visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.

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Program Spotlight: Smart Choices for WIC

Laura at WIC demoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

How do you get kids to eat spinach? That’s a challenge that Laura McAllister seems to have conquered, not through disguise, but by employing subtle inclusion.

Laura is a one of the Food of Delaware’s WIC food demonstration specialists. On Friday, she set up a portable cooking station inside the Shipley State Service Center in Seaford.

As part of the Smart Choices for WIC program, Laura’s job is to show mothers who receive WIC benefits how to prepare healthy and inviting dishes based on items they can purchase using their vouchers.

So she made something that most children enjoy: pizza. The recipe, Mini Tortilla Pizza, includes spinach as one of toppings along with the traditional tomato sauce and cheese.

Diamonte Wise, 4, Millsboro, loved it, spinach and all, much to the delight of his parents.

“I am surprised he’s eating it because he doesn’t like green,” said Dorian Williams, Diamonte’s dad.

His parents, including his mom Melissa, were enthusiastic about taking home the recipe, and she said she look forward to preparing it at home.

In Delaware, one in five children lives in poverty; and many are served by the WIC program.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, WIC is a “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”

The WIC food list includes fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, bread, dried beans, and some cereals, and although the foods are healthy, some young parents may be challenged to make them appealing and appetizing to young children.

So Laura, and Amanda, her New Castle County counterpart, create recipes, demonstrate the preparation and offer samples to WIC recipients. In addition to Seaford, Laura also visits service centers in Frankford, Georgetown, Milford and Dover each month.

For more information about the Smart Choices for WIC program or any other programs sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Tyler Cavanaugh

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern

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The success of the Food Bank of Delaware is in large part thanks to our dedicated volunteers. One of those dedicated volunteers is Tyler Cavanaugh. Tyler is an 18- -year-old student who currently attends Glasgow’s, James H. Groves High School. He is volunteering his time to fulfill the needed credits to graduate, but is fully committed to making a difference in our community. Tyler is a hard working volunteer that has proven to be a leader in the Newark volunteer room. He is inspiring others to take initiative and make the commitment to ensure that Delawareans’ basic needs are met.

Tyler chose the Food Bank of Delaware as his organization of choice because of its convenient location. With the Newark location being close to home, Tyler felt that the Food Bank could help achieve his goals. Thanks to other volunteers, Tyler has gained many fond moments here.

“Meeting everyone has become a very cool thing,” he said. :”There are a lot of great personalities here which makes me look forward to coming in.” For individuals considering volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware, Tyler advises, “Do it…it’s a great opportunity to volunteer here, it’s a great environment and, in my opinion, one of the best places to volunteer.”

When Tyler is here volunteering, he typically packages up food products into boxes. The boxes are categorized by food groups. This allows Food Bank of Delaware partners to easily order off our weekly menu. Once the boxes are packed, he takes them into the warehouse on a pallet jack.

Food Bank of Delaware volunteers will see many food products, some common and others different. Tyler says his favorite Food Bank food packing group is snacks and desserts for the simple reason – he craves junk food! That’s okay though, Tyler knows the portions he should eat with the gained knowledge from the Food Bank of Delaware.

Thank you, Tyler, for all the great work you have done. A special thanks to all of our other volunteers that do a hard day’s work also!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com!

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Eat Smart Live Strong at Luther Towers

Today marked the last of four sessions of Community Nutrition Educator Alyssa Atanacio’s Smart Live Strong class at Luther Towers. Over the past three visits, senior citizens living in the Wilmington residential tower learned more about a healthy and active lifestyle. The group learned they should eat 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day (1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables) and participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days.

Alyssa opened the fourth class with a review of what the seniors had already learned. Each week, they have been responsible for filling out a weekly log of how many cups of fruits and vegetables they consumed and how much physical activity they participated in. Everyone who completed and brought their log to today’s class received a free recipe book, Recipes in a SNAP!

The seniors talked about their weekly experience consuming fruits and vegetables. Some had no difficulty incorporating the food groups into their daily diets, while others struggled to get the proper amounts. Participants shared tips for eating more fruits and vegetables. One participant had a vegetable pizza, while another sprinkled fresh fruit on her morning cereal.

Alyssa gave the group practical tips for consuming more fruits and vegetables. She advised them to check the labels when shopping for canned fruits and vegetables. “You want to make sure your canned fruit is in natural juices versus syrup and to look for low-sodium vegetables,” she pointed out.

Alyssa encouraged the group to utilize their SNAP benefits to purchase fruits and vegetable, buy fruits and vegetables when they are on sale and buy when it’s in season.

“Fruits and vegetables that are in season are cheaper. It’s much cheaper to buy strawberries in the spring and summer then it is in the winter,” she said. “When fresh produce is in season stock up and freeze it.”

The group also talked about the importance of physical activity. “It’s important to stretch every day,” said Alyssa.

Lindsey, our Summer Nutrition Educator, lead the seniors in a series of gentle stretches including neck and shoulder rolls and wrist and ankle rotations.

One senior noted how physical activity has helped with balance. Another said she had more energy throughout the day.

After the discussion, the group played two rounds of Fruit and Vegetable Bingo! Lindsey described different fruits and vegetables as participants called out the item and covered up its picture on their Bingo card.

Two lucky winners took home a bag of make-your-own kale chips. After the winners were called, Alyssa passed out a sample of the recipe of the day, pear and quinoa salad. It was a hit!

To close out the session, participants received a free bunch of bananas and a small bag of assorted vegetables!

To learn more about SNAP-education at the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.

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Snack Art at Rodney Street Tennis

Today was a beautiful summer afternoon for nutrition fun in Wilmington’s Rockford Park! Alyssa Antanacio RD, our Community Nutrition Educator, spent the afternoon with kids from the Rodney Street Tennis program. The goal for the one-hour session – learn about healthy snacks and create a Snack Art “cow!”

Gathered around two picnic tables, Alyssa and Lindsey, our summer Nutrition Educator, talked with kids about the importance of eating healthy snacks.

“You need to eat healthy snacks throughout the day, especially since you are playing tennis, to keep your body fueled,” explained Alyssa.

Reviewing the five MyPlate groups, Alyssa shared some healthy snack ideas from each food group. “Kids need to eat 1.5 cups of fruits each day,” as she held up a rubber pear. “And you need 2 cups of vegetables per day,” she pointed out as she held up a serving size of carrots.

“Are those foods real,” questioned one participant. The real-life food items provide a great visual for kids on healthy portion sizes for snacks.

Before the kids began creating an edible cow, they listed some of their favorite healthy snacks. Favorites among this group of aspiring tennis stars, yogurt with fruit, cereal, peanut butter on bread and more.

The highlight of the session was the chance to create a Snack Art cow. Using items from the food groups, kids put together healthy foods to create a fun, healthy and edible project!

They started with a rice cake for the cow’s face. Next, Alyssa instructed the group to spread soy butter on the rice cake so the cow’s ears, eyes and nose would stick. Two pieces of bananas for the horns, a grape cut in half for two little cow ears, an apricot snout, raisins for eyes and two toasty o’s cereal pieces for nostrils!

Viola! A Snack Art cow! Next up, eat the cow!

The kids had a great time learning about how the foods they eat help to make them better tennis players.

Is your organization interested in hosting a nutrition education class for kids? Click here to learn more about the program!

Nutrition Education classes at the Food Bank of Delaware are made possible through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Tonja Scott

Tonja Scott graduated with the 39th class of The Culinary School back in January. After successfully completing the program, she got right to work at Four Points by Sheraton in Newark as a line cook. She accepted employment so quickly that she was not able to attend the January graduation ceremony because she was working.

Since the hotel’s soft opening in January, Tonja says the brand-new hotel at the intersection of Route 273 and Old Baltimore Pike has gotten busier. She is learning a lot under Executive Chef Rich. Chef Rich utilizes a cooking technique called sous-vide. Foods are sealed in air-tight plastic bags and placed in a water bath or temperature-controlled steam environments for a long period of time.

“It makes everything so much better. Food is juicy and there is no way you can overcook it,” explains Tonja.

Tonja typically works Friday-Tuesday and begins her work day early in the morning. She opens the hotel’s restaurant between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. As the only kitchen staff member on duty in the morning, she cooks breakfast, sets up for morning banquets and more.

Tonja says the training she received at The Culinary School prepared her for employment at the hotel restaurant. Some of the most important skills learned include prepping, multiplying and being able to read a recipe. She enjoys preparing pan-seared salmon, anything with shrimp; and the zucchini with pesto sauce is “awesome,” she says.

Past experience has also been valuable for Tonja’s career in the food service industry. “I have always been in food,” she points out.

In 1991 she enrolled in Job Corps’ training program and completed the program as a chef’s helper. She spent seven years managing the Market Street Subway in Wilmington. Before enrolling at The Culinary School, Tonja worked at Extreme Pizza in Wilmington where she eventually became a manager.

Looking ahead, Tonja says her dream job is to own a gourmet food truck. The skills she’s learning at Four Points by Sheraton are helping to make that dream a reality. In addition to working five days a week at the hotel, Tonja also runs her own catering business on the side.

Hard work has gotten Tonja to where she is today. She advises current students, “Pay attention, don’t just rely on school work. You have to do the work. You have to read. You have to be hands-on. It has to be something you want. if you don’t want it, you aren’t going to get it.”

She adds, “You have to be a self-starter. Go above and beyond. It will take you so much further.”

For students considering a career in the food service industry, “It’s always a great idea. There is always a cook needed. It’s growing, and it’s an opportunity to make great money, enjoying what you do,” she says. “Embrace it. Especially if it comes natural – hone in on your gifts.”

Tonja is thankful for the opportunity she received at The Culinary School. “Class is expensive. It was a gift for me, so I really appreciated it, and I didn’t play with it,” she explains.

“If you are in this class, someone is taking the time to pay your tab and give you an opportunity to give yourself more value. You can never have too many skills,” Tonja advises.

Are you ready for a career change? Do you want to give yourself more value? Learn more about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware by visiting http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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CSA program benefits everyone

   By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program got off to a great start today as more than 100 boxes went out from distribution sites at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch and at the Downtown Dover Farmers’ Market.

New Castle County residents will pick up boxes on Thursday in Newark and the Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Springs Park.

Folks claiming their shares in Dover were excited to have fresh lettuce, blueberries, green onion, red potatoes, herbs, squash, tomatoes and cantaloupe.

Though CSA is a relatively new concept, most people are aware that it’s an opportunity to buy shares of local produce that are boxed, and then picked up weekly throughout the growing season.

The cost for a full share is $500 (with $100 tax deductible) or $250 for a half share ($50 tax deductible), and payment options are available by visiting www.fbd.org/program/csa. The program can also be pro-rated for those who sign up later in the season. Those who purchase a season’s share are also sponsoring 2.5 shares for families in need, so everyone benefits.

Those who meet income guidelines can register and purchase a half share for $5/week or full for $10/week.

Janice, a Dover senior citizen, was first to pick up her share, and brought her own bags to carry the produce.

“I can’t afford to buy the bagged salad mix. It allows me to eat better. I’m on a fixed income, and I love it,” said the retired homemaker.

She also likes trying the recipes that are included each week. This week’s recipe, for example, was for a chilled cantaloupe soup.

Don Boucek of Camden echoed Janice’s sentiments.

“I like the vegetables. It changes my eating habits with more fruit, like strawberries and watermelon,” he said.

Smyrna residents, Rebecca and Sandy, are first-time sponsors in the program, each purchasing a half share.

“I like fresh produce, locally grown and it helps the Food Bank. It’s a win-win situation,” she said.

Sandy, a dietitian, said she talked her friend into signing up for the CSA boxes.

“We can pick up for each other, if one is on vacation. I’m so excited. It makes us eat well,” she said.

Contents for the Food Bank’s CSA program come from the historic Laurel Farmers’ Auction Market. Calvin Musser, manager, said the season starts in June with squash, cucumbers and peppers, with corn arriving in late June.

The CSA boxes also include fresh leafy vegetables, herbs, tomatoes, fruit and root vegetables as they are grown locally. Each full share is enough to feed a family of four for a week.

To learn more, contact Barb Brkovich, CSA Program Coordinator at (302) 292-1305 ext 204 or bbrkovich@fbd.org. Individuals may also visit http://www.fbd.org/program/csa.

 

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