It’s always fun to look back on all of our accomplishments at the Food Bank of Delaware. We can’t believe another year is coming to a close! 2011 was a great year of working to alleviate hunger in the First State. Thanks to the dedication of thousands of volunteers, advocates and donors, we provided 7.7 million pounds of food to Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. Because of significant increases in demand for our services, the Food Bank team launched many new initiatives to help those in need.
Check out some of our highlights from 2011:
January: Thanks to the efforts of Representative Darryl Scott and 60 volunteers, we served close to 300 families at a Martin Luther King Jr. mobile pantry held on the campus of Wesley College in Dover. Families attending the mobile pantry received 30-pound meal boxes, which contained enough food to feed a family of four for several days, frozen turkeys, bananas, potatoes, clementine oranges, cheese, beverages, hygiene products and more.
February: Our Kid C.H.E.F. (Cooking Healthy, Easy Foods) continues to impact children and increase participants’ knowledge about healthy eating and preparing easy-to-make foods at home. Last year 281 children partcipated in the program. In February, our Community Nutritionist, Beverly, spent a week with children from the Newark Boys & Girls Club teaching them healthy-eating habits and how to cook easy foods at home.
March: We celebrated the accomplishments of our 26th graduating class of The Culinary School with a special guest speaker – Chef Dana “Sugar Daddy” Herbert, winner of TLC’s Next Great Baker competition and owner of Desserts by Dana in New Castle! “Never lose your drive and determination and always stay humble no matter how big you get or how much you know,” advised Herbert in his remarks to the students. In addition, he encouraged students to always finish what they start, “at the end of the day it’s the results that count.”
April: Thanks to the generosity of Giant we were able to provide Easter hams to Wilmington families in need. We set up our mobile pantry at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Northeast section of town and distributed meal boxes, produce and other supplemental meals to families struggling to put meals on the table. We were thankful to have Stacy Wiggins from Giant to help with the distribution. Giant has been a committed partner in our fight against hunger.
May: We were excited to participate in the second annual Parade to Fight Hunger, the official kick off to the Wilmington Grand Prix! It was great to see so many spectators and parade participants. A special guest appearance was made by the Dole Banana! Here’s the tired banana with some members of the FBD staff! Following the parade, professional cyclists raced along a one-mile course in downtown Wilmington. In addition to the parade, spectators enjoyed a free family-friendly street fair. The weekend event wrapped up on Sunday with the first-ever Governor’s Ride to benefit the Food Bank!
June: We kicked off our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children in June with two Summer Fun Fairs – one in New Castle and the other in Millsboro. The two events attracted more than 100 children. Children enjoyed a free lunch (the same lunch we provide through the program), face painting, fun games and a visit from the USDA Eat Smart! Play Hard! Power Panther. In addition to the fun and games, we were also thankful for special guest visitors including, Governor Jack Markell, Lt. Governor Matt Denn, Senator Tom Carper, Annie Coons, wife of U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Pat Dombroski from the USDA and more. This past summer we prepared more than 405,000 meals for children – making us the largest food bank sponsor of the SFSP!
July: According to a July report from The News Journal, a tractor-trailer driver pulling a load of potatoes failed to stop for an oncoming train causing a collision in Milford. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but you can imagine the cleanup that was involved. Route 113 in Milford was closed in both directions for several hours. Highway officials separated the spilled spuds in two loads – salvageable and non-salvageable. The potatoes that were not salvageable were dumped, but all of the potatoes that were still in good condition for consumption were donated to us!
August: The month of August was busy at the Food Bank of Delaware. We started the month with a visit from Feeding America President and CEO, Vicki Escarra! We kicked off the day with a special welcome breakfast with Senator Christ Coons, State Representative Darryl Scott and others. We had a great day showing Vicki our operations, especially our Summer Food Service Program. Vicki jumped right in and helped volunteers prepare thousands of sandwiches and pack brown bags filled with food for children in need.
September: Thanks to our friends at Chase and AARP we had the opportunity to meet NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon, in late September as part of AARP’s Drive to End Hunger campaign. Jeff Gordon along with hundreds of Chase associates lined up outside their downtown Wilmington to create emergency meal boxes for seniors in need. The campaign culminated with race weekend at Dover Downs where we were presented with two checks – $10,000 from the AARP Foundation and $5,000 from Giant to help fight hunger in our community.
October: Close to 250 Food Bank of Delaware supporters “got their groove on” to raise money to address the critical issue of hunger in Delaware. Guests who attended the Saturday Night Fever Blue Jean Ball on Saturday, October 8 enjoyed an evening of fine cuisine prepared by The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, beer provided by Iron Hill Brewery, wine from United Distributors and live music from Stranger’s. Our Newark warehouse was transformed into a space reminiscent of the disco days! A 20-inch disco ball and laser lights lit up the warehouse.
November: We welcomed Vicki Escarra, Feeding America President and CEO, back to Delaware in early November to help celebrate the graduation of the 28th class from our Culinary School. In addition, Lt. Governor Matt Denn announced that the Food Bank of Delaware was the recipient of a three-year grant in the amount of $205,470 from the Criminal Justice Council. This grant will enable us to train 42 students who are reentering society from the Delaware Department of Corrections, with the opportunity to learn vital skills in the culinary field enabling them to gain employment in Delaware’s food service job market.
In addition to the graduation ceremony, November also marked the grand opening of our first school-based food pantry at East Side Charter School. Dr. Lillian Lowery, Secretary, Delaware Department of Education and others from the community joined us to announce the new initiative. Through the new program, funded by Barclays, at-risk families with children enrolled at East Side Charter School will be able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting a food pantry within the school. Twenty-five to 30 families will be discretely identified by East Side Charter school officials, and the new pantry will offer a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items.
December: We celebrated the success of our first-ever DelawareCAN competition with a celebratory lunch for our top winners. In an effort to help stock our shelves and ensure that hungry Delawareans have access to healthy foods, we launched our DelawareCAN competition in
early October. The competition provided a creative way to collect much-needed food and create a spirited competition in Delaware’s business community. Companies held food drives and competed to create sculptures out of the food items collected. To see a list of winners, please click here.
Thanks to all who helped make 2011 successful! Here’s to another year of fighting hunger in the First State! To learn how you can help fight hunger in 2012, please visit our website at www.fbd.org.