By Kim Kostes, Community Relations Manager
Tucked off Route One in Lewes amongst restaurants and shops frequented by beach tourists is the Cape Henlopen Food Basket. Those not in the hunger-relief community may wonder why a food pantry is needed in such an apparent affluent area. Since the economy started its downward spiral, more and more residents living in the Cape Henlopen School District (the pantry’s service area) have turned to the food closet for assistance.
I had the opportunity to spend the morning with Jenny, Dee, Liz, Jackie and Ann – a dedicated group of volunteers who staff the food closet on a monthly basis. I walked into a organized and efficient pantry! Cans and boxes of nonperishable foods lined the shelves and a table filled with bags awaited the day’s food closet visitors. Prior to the pantry’s opening at 10 a.m., the ladies stocked shelves, broke down boxes and packed more bags.
The pantry depends on the generosity of the community to ensure a steady supply of food for area families in need. This morning during my visit, two donors dropped off close to 100 pounds in food! In addition to donations received from community members, local grocers and churches, volunteers also pick up product from our Milford Branch. Jenny Hanson, one of the volunteers, told me that they have been picking up more product from the Food Bank because of the number of clients who visit the pantry. “We’re having a harder time making ends meet,” she said.
The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on average volunteers serve about 20-30 households each day. To date this year, the Cape Henlopen Food Basket has served 2,472 households, just a slight decline from last year. One of the volunteers believes the decline may be due to the fact that those who are in need may not have the money to pay for gas, don’t have transportation or have found other means of assistance. During my time visiting the pantry, two households came in for assistance. Families received two grocery bags filled with items such as spaghetti, pancake mix, noodles, rice, macaroni and cheese, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal and more, a voucher to Safeway for a loaf of wheat bread, one dozen eggs, a tub of butter and a gallon of milk. In addition, clients could choose from an array of baked goods, condiments and breads. Recipients receive enough food to last almost two weeks.
The clientele visiting the food closet have certainly changed since the economic downturn said Dee Watkins, another pantry volunteer. “We have a mixture of families and children,” she said. A lot of seniors who are raising their grandkids depend on the the food cloest for assistance. Volunteer Liz Shea added that she has even seen a few addresses on the client list from her own neighborhood.
The Cape Henlopen Food Basket serves as temporary emergency relief for times when a family’s pantry is bare or when paying bills has used up any money for food. After a client’s third visit volunteers do ask that clients contact the state service center in Georgetown to find out what additional services are available.
Because of partners like the Cape Henlopen Food Basket, we’re able to serve close to 242,000 Delawareans who may go without nutritious foods! Thank you to the ladies at the food pantry for allowing me to visit with them this morning!
Check out some more photos!