By Patricia Beebe, President and CEO
In February 2009 we announced the creation of our statewide Anti-Hunger Coalition. The coalition has generously been funded by the Delaware Community Foundation. For the past 16 months, members of the coalition have worked to identify goals, objectives and measurements to make significant contributions towards alleviating and in many cases eliminating hunger in the state of Delaware. The Coalition has been working hard in subgroups on several different areas pertaining to hunger and poverty in Delaware.
Here is an update on some of the progress we have made to date:
- The Universal School Breakfast initiative is to be discussed in the House Education Committee. Nemours has developed an impact paper on the issue and the Delaware Department of Education has studied the issue in a separate committee.
- The Children’s Feeding Programs subcomittee has focused on increasing the number of backpack sites and is currently investigating setting up a school supplies warehouse within the Food Bank for teachers to access. In addition, they are working to increase the number of Summer Feeding and Afterschool Feeding sites, and developing and implementing the new Kid CHEF (Cooking, Healthy, Easy Foods) program. The AHC needs to continue involvement in various capacities to assist with all of these important programs.
- Senate Bill 255 has been introduced. This bill enables individuals convicted of a drug felony access to food stamps. Current law denies food stamp access to those individuals. We need AHC support to enable its passage. For more information, please click here.
- Food closets have been set up in all the state service centers as a joint collaborative effort with the Department of Health and Social Services. We continue to need volunteers to help staff the centers and funds to purchase the food and grocery items.
- A University of Delaware professor will be conducting her sabbatical this fall with the AHC. Her mission will be to research and develop the WIC and USDA Senior Farmer’s Market plans, assist with formulating outcomes and objectives for several federal grant opportunities on produce initiatives and in general seek out and develop more strategies for access and utilization of produce in our communities. This will be accomplished with AHC input.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program grant was secured. We receive enough federal surplus product to make and distribute 2,500 meal boxes for seniors per month. We still need AHC involvement to locate the seniors that would benefit.
- Kelly Whitmarsh, our research assistant, recently wrote and defended her master’s thesis on A Collaborative Stakeholder Approach, which is based on her work with the coalition. When approved this will be added to our Web site.
- The LIHEAP waiver was enacted to increase food stamp amounts to those who are eligible for LIHEAP. Unfortunately, it was too late in the year for any referrals to be made. This needs to be a goal for the upcoming heating season.
Stay tuned for more updates regarding our efforts to alleviate hunger in the First State through collaborations and public policy initatives.