Top three myths about the Food Bank of Delaware

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Maybe we could do a better job communicating what the Food Bank of Delaware does and what we’re all about? I say this as a member of the communications team, and because I frequently encounter people who think we simply hand out food and that’s that.

So I’m here to dispel three myths about the Food Bank of Delaware:

  1. The mission of the Food Bank of Delaware is to give food to hungry people. Yes, and no! Our mission is to eliminate hunger in Delaware, but our distribution system is supported by community partners, 620 hunger-relief program partners statewide. So, people can’t just walk into one of our warehouses and walk out with a bag full of food.

Our partners, churches, schools and non-profit agencies, regularly distribute food to families who meet specific income criteria.

We have a program which provides a meal box of food each month to senior citizens, and at Thanksgiving, our clients receive a holiday meal during a special distribution. For those who are in need of emergency food assistance, we always refer them to Delaware 2-1-1, Delaware’s Health and Social Services helpline. The team at Delaware 2-1-1 can refer callers to local organizations that can assist with not only emergency food assistance, but also utility bills, housing and more.

  1. Thanksgiving is our busiest time of year. Definitely not! Yes, we’re quite busy just before Thanksgiving and Christmas, but summer is our most demanding season. Surprised? During the summer, we have special programs that focus on the needs of children. Think about it: students aren’t in school and don’t have access to breakfast and lunch served in those cafeterias. So we have a very active Summer Food Service Program, one that delivers breakfast, lunch and dinners to sites up and down the state. The food is distributed to children through child-care centers, libraries, community centers, apartment complexes, and churches neighborhoods and more!

And there’s another level of community involvement in the summer: these programs, like most of ours, rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers pack meals, help with clerical duties, cleaning out coolers, and many more jobs most people never see or think about.

  1. The Food Bank deals only with shelf-stable food. No! Sure we distribute plenty of canned goods, peanut butter, tuna, and pasta, but the Food Bank is so much more than that.

We help clients gain access to fresh produce, teach people how to garden, either individually or in communities, and also offer cooking classes for children and seniors. In addition, we offer financial literacy support in the $tand by Me program, and we assist people in accessing support programs, including SNAP. We are very proud of our two Culinary Schools that train people for employment in the food service industry.

The list of programs is long, and it’s growing. Each one is led by trained, educated, competent people committed to our mission.

So, if you think the Food Bank is limited to providing a helping hand at the holidays, be assured, we’re working hard all year ‘round.

Check us out at http://www.fbd.org.

Here’s a look at how our food distribution system works!

HowtheFBDworks

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Kenneth Nocks

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern

For Kenneth Nocks, applying for The Culinary School was a no-brainer, as cooking has always been an important part of his life.DSC_0376

“Cooking is something I grew up on and it now gives me peace and a state of mind,” said Kenneth.  So when his social worker told him about the opportunity, he jumped on it.

Kenneth is a member of the 40th class at The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. For the past 7 weeks, under the instruction of Chef Sean McNeice, he’s been applying his newly-developed skills to explore new foods to prepare and serve.

Chef Sean has been grooming Kenneth and his classmates for entry-level employment in the food service industry. They’re working on the skills that culinary employers are looking for. In return, many graduates enjoy financial stability and job security. Some of the skills Kenneth and his classmates have been practicing include ServSafe food safety, culinary mathematics, knife skills, sautéing and more!

Cooking rice has always been a challenge for Kenneth, “I can cook anything in the world, but had the biggest problem with rice,” he said jokingly. Thanks to Chef Sean’s help, Kenneth is on his way to preparing perfect rice.

While rice has posed challenges to his cooking repertoire, he loves making chicken and dumplings. Soul food is where it’s at,” he says!

Looking forward to post-graduation, Kenneth aspires to open his own food truck and then expand into a bar and bistro. He says that both would specialize in barbeque as it’s his specialty and an ode to his southern roots.

Kenneth is just one of hundreds of students who have been positively impacted by The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. Are you ready to make a career change? Applications are accepted throughout the year for our culinary training program in both Newark and Milford. Are you food service employer who wants to make a difference? We are in need of internship sites and employers! To learn more, visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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Partner Spotlight: New Castle Library

The lunchtime volunteers at the New Castle Library

The lunchtime volunteers at the New Castle Library

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

We are always seeking new community partnerships in order to deliver more services to Delawareans in need. We were thrilled when earlier this spring several libraries throughout the state signed on to participate as Summer Food Service Program sites!

Yesterday I visited the New Castle Library, our only Summer Food Service Program library site in New Castle County.

Jackie Harad, the Youth Services Specialist at the New Castle Library, and a team of three volunteers, work to ensure that the summer meal program runs smoothly at the library. Meals are delivered by the Food Bank every Tuesday, and lunch takes place immediately following mid-day programming.

From 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., children filter in for lunch. On the menu during my visit: turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread, potato salad, celery sticks with ranch dressing and chocolate milk! Kids enjoy the turkey and cheese, says Jackie.

She is happy that the library is participating in this year’s meal program and hopes that more libraries sign on next summer. The New Castle Library is already planning to participate again next summer.

New Castle Library kidsShe says it was really a no-brainer to participate considering how many students in her community utilize free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch programs during the school year.

“It’s very easy to do. It’s not complicated especially if you have volunteers,” she points out. “The only paperwork is ticking off how many lunches were eaten, but it’s not difficult.”

As the children ate their lunches during my visit, Jackie and the team of volunteers went around talking with the kids. So far the kids have had a great summer – trips to summer camp, one family went on a road trip to Texas and others have been catching up on their summer reading at the library! When asked if they were excited to go back to school, two young girls said yes, while the boys said no!

Jackie is thankful for the library’s partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware. In addition to free summer meals, she is also utilizing our SNAP-education program to provide nutrition education to the library’s young visitors.

Lindsey, our Summer Community Nutrition Educator, hosted a Fruit and Vegetable Bingo session at the library immediately following lunchtime. This program uses Bingo cards to teach children about the many different fruits and vegetables that are available. In addition to playing, the kids also get to sample fruits and vegetables!

Thanks to the dedicated team at the New Castle Library for helping us ensure that kids have access to free, nutritious meals this summer!

To learn more about the summer meal program at the Food Bank, please click here! To find free summer meals near you, text FOOD to 877-877, dial 2-1-1 for Delaware 2-1-1 or visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks for an interactive map!

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Mobile pantries offer food, education to community-based sites

Fresh and Crystal at MP

Fresh (our Mobile Pantry Driver) and Crystal (our SNAP Outreach Coordinator) work at the Casa San Francisco mobile pantry

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Sussex County residents who took part in the Food Bank’s Kraft Mobile Pantry held at Casa San Francisco left with big smiles and plenty of food for their pantries and freezers.

And they were very, very grateful!

Casa San Francisco in the heart of Milton is a 12-bed homeless shelter operated by Catholic Charities.

Those who received the boxes of shelf-stable food were recruited for the program by Desiree Downes, HOPE program coordinator for Casa San Francisco. HOPE is an acronym for Helping Ordinary People Endure.

Through the mobile pantry program, typically 35-40 households access the pantry and are able to select foods best suited for their family’s needs and preferences.

During the recent Casa mobile pantry, 25 people signed up for the event.

In addition, an education session is held prior to the distribution. The class focuses on a variety of topics including nutrition, financial literacy, healthcare and more. A health educator from Beebe Medical Center provided a class on preventive healthcare to the Casa San Francisco group.

At this pantry, in addition to 35 pounds of pre-packed food, each participant received fresh corn on the cob, bread, frozen chicken, cranberry sauce and bread. The carts were full, and volunteers assisted in loading food into waiting cars.

One Frankford resident, a 72-year-old woman, was delighted to have plenty of food.

“This is really nice. I’m on a fixed income, and this means a whole lot,” she said, adding that she planned to prepare some of it, including the corn for dinner.

Another woman, a 71-year-old Millsboro resident, was equally pleased.

“It’s just wonderful. It helps so much. I wouldn’t be eating well without this. I really enjoy the fresh produce and a good selection,” she said.

Community partners are currently needed to host the pantry distribution and lead educational sessions. For more information, please contact Melissa Holochwost, Mobile Pantry Coordinator, at (302) 444-8129 or mholochwost@fbd.org.

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Partner Spotlight: Calvary Assembly of God

By Kim Turner, Lynda Pusey and Chris Willis

Last month we visited Calvary Assembly of God two times to see firsthand the impact the church is making on the Dover community. Under the leadership of Margaret Young, a dedicated group of volunteers ensure that the church’s monthly mobile pantries and senior meal box distributions run smoothly.

On our first visit to the church, families were patiently waiting in the vestibule of the church to participate in the Food Bank of Delaware-sponsored mobile pantry program at the church. Prior to visiting the-always-entertaining Frank “Fresh” Coverdale, our Mobile Pantry Driver, and the mobile pantry truck, families participated in a 30-minute financial literacy class sponsored by a local organization.

Mobile pantry participants are of varied backgrounds. However, their appreciation for Margaret, her team of volunteers and the Food Bank of Delaware is a common thread.

On our visit, we met many individuals who were thankful for the service. Here are some of their stories:

Tiya from Dover told Lynda how hard it is “getting by and trying to make it day by day.” She is recovering from a foot surgery and is only working part-time. She said she has to use the mobile pantry at Calvary about every four months and is so happy it’s there when she needs it.

A.C. from Frederika is in his 60s and is disabled. He had a head injury when is was in his late 20s and lately he has been having issues from the injury. He sometimes has to choose between paying for medicine and buying food. A friend encouraged him to visit the church to apply for help. When asked what he thought of the program he replied, “I’m glad they have programs like this that allow people to take the burden off their shoulders, because that’s a heavy weight when you have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.”

Lois from Dover is in her 80s and retired from nursing. She remains very involved in her community and also volunteers at Calvary’s emergency food pantry twice a week. She had been struggling to pay for her medicines and still be able to afford food when a friend referred her to Calvary. She was subsisting on $15 a month in SNAP benefits for food and said she would buy peanut butter and crackers or get a bag of navy beans and make enough soup to last for a few weeks. For the past two years she has been able to eat a healthier diet thanks to the senior meal boxes and mobile pantries at the church. “The programs at Calvary have been a blessing. I don’t know what I would do without them. I try to help other seniors to get plugged in to programs to help. My whole mission in life was to help people, and I was very embarrassed that I needed help.” She feels better about receiving help when she is also able to help others in return.

Janet is from Dover and has been retired from the post office since 2008. She lives with a roommate who learned about the services at Calvary through a fellow veteran. When Janet saw that her roommate was able to receive help and also volunteer her time on other days she agreed to check into the services at Calvary. She said she had been able to keep up with her bills, medicines and grocery bills until recently when she had to start caring for two grandchildren. She is very happy with how much help she has been able to receive and also that she is able to volunteer twice a week at the emergency food pantry. “Margaret at Calvary is wonderful. She turns no one away.”

Gale from Dover lives with her husband. Both of them are unemployed. Her husband had a job until he was struck by a car and became unable to work. They are receiving SNAP benefits, but the monthly amount was recently cut by half, and they have been having problems getting enough food to eat. They have visited the food pantry in the past but were at the mobile pantry for the first time. They have had to choose many times between buying food and paying for medicine and utilities. Gale said she was very thankful for the people at Calvary and the Food Bank of Delaware and the programs provided to help people like her be able to make it through to the end of the month.

Thank you, Calvary Assembly of God, for being a critical partner in our fight against hunger in the First State!

Calvary MP

 

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Food Lion Offers Customers an Opportunity to Gain Free Admittance to Delaware State Fair during “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” on July 27

IMG_8325Food Lion, the Delaware State Fair and the Food Bank of Delaware announced today that the fourth annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” will take place on Monday, July 27 at the Delaware State Fair.

Fair attendees who bring five Food Lion brand canned or boxed goods will in exchange receive free gate admittance to the Delaware State Fair from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Monday, July 27. This community effort is part of the fourth annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” at the Delaware State Fair.

“At Food Lion, we believe no one should have to choose between dinner and paying rent or gasoline and buying groceries,” said Bob Mills, Food Lion’s execution and implementation specialist for the Delaware market. “That’s why we’re so passionate about helping to end hunger in our local communities. We know the community’s help from past events has helped us to feed people who otherwise would have to make those tough choices.”

Donations received through this year’s effort will assist families in Kent and Sussex Counties struggling to put food on the IMG_8312table. More than 43,000 residents of Kent and Sussex counties are considered food insecure, meaning their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.

“Last year was a great success as we collected 26,238 meals for residents of Kent and Sussex Counties who are struggling with hunger,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “With the help of our community, we hope to exceed last year’s total and stock our local food pantries with much-needed essentials.”

“The Delaware State Fairs is thankful for the continued support from Food Lion as we continue to work year after year in collecting the much-needed food to help support the community,” said Assistant General Manager for the Delaware State Fair, Danny Aguilar.

Volunteers from Food Lion, Lake Forest School District, the Delaware State Fair and the Food Bank of Delaware will accept donations at all gates. No items stored in glass will be accepted. Some of the Food Bank of Delaware’s most-needed items include the following:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Tuna fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats
  • Cereal
  • Pasta

For more information about the Delaware State Fair, please visit www.delawarestatefair.com.

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‘Life changing:’ Student describes TCS experiences

TCS John Milford 6th class compressedBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

John, a student at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford, calls his experience here “life changing.”

The 18-year-old Dover resident is already employed at a fast food chain, but he says he is learning something important and useful every day in the hopes of growing his career.

“I really like it. I’m always learning something new, and I’ve learned a lot about food,” he said.

Now in the seventh week of the 14-week curriculum, John said the classes also present some challenges.

“I have trouble remembering the technical side, but I’ve learned a lot. It changes your whole way of eating out,” he said.

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter and the guidance of Ellen Roland, Culinary School program manager, the students spend 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, the students will be prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

“John continues to try, and he gets better each day. He improves daily; he is doing fine,” said Chef Hunter

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the Food Bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students take field trips to food processing plants and urban food markets.

John said he already enjoyed preparing simple meals at home, but he would like to improve his skills.

“I would like to try to bake,” he said.

“It’s pretty life-changing. You can take recipes, and from them the possibilities are endless.”

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First, students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

For more information, visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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