We’re wrapping up another successful year here at the Food Bank of Delaware. The work we’ve done to help alleviate hunger would not be possible without our supporters. The year ushered in many new initiatives including the opening of our Culinary School in Milford, a new Kraft mobile pantry vehicle, the Coalition to End Hunger and more! Check out our accomplishments over the past 12 months!
January: We kicked off the New Year with an invitation to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball. Students from The Culinary School showed off their skills to a crowd of 1,800. They spent the days leading up to the event preparing more than 2,000 gourmet sirlion sliders for guests to enjoy. The night of the event, students worked alongside other members of the Delaware Restaurant Association. They were in the company of restaurants like Iron Hill Brewery, Harry’s Savoy Grill, Buckley’s Tavern, Nage, Pizza By Elizabeth’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Abbott’s Grill and many more! It was a great opportunity for students to network with others in the industry and demonstrate their abilities.
February: Giant Food announced in February that the Food Bank of Delaware was among five Feeding America food banks to receive funding for programs to alleviate childhood hunger. Giant has committed $300,000 over the next three years to our summer Grab and Go meal program for children at-risk of hunger. The program closes the meal gap for children who are not able to participate in the traditional Summer Food Service Program.
March: We unveiled our brand-new Kraft mobile pantry vehicle in March. The truck donation was part of a nationwide fleet being rolled out by the Kraft Foods Foundation. We celebrated this new vehicle with a special mobile food distribution outside Westside Family Healthcare in Dover. Thirty-five families attended an educational session followed by the opportunity to choose foods most needed for their household. The mobile pantry will bring more than 650,000 pounds of good nutrition – that’s nearly 780,000 meals– to the area’s hungry residents each year, at a time when the need has never been greater.
April: April was a busy month as we held our first-ever Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference and our annual dinner. More than 250 anti-hunger advocates gathered at the Christiana Hilton on Monday, April 15 to learn best practices for ending hunger in the state of Delaware. The all-day conference, sponsored locally by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and presented by the Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition, focused on ways to increase access to and participation in children’s nutrition programs, innovative strategies for providing more nutritious foods and recruiting and applying volunteer talent. Guest speakers included Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, Lt. Governor Matt Denn, First Lady Carla Markell, Delaware Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf, Delaware Department of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Ed Kee and more.
The month’s flurry of activity continued with our annual dinner on April 26. More than 150 supporters packed our Newark warehouse for an evening of entertainment from Pearl Street and a dinner prepared by students from The Culinary School. The evening closed with recognizing eight outstanding organizations/individuals.
May: A full line up of events continued through the month of May. The annual Grand Prix weekend took place May 17-19. Five-hundred associates from JPMorgan Chase spent Friday evening packing 30,000 meals for children and seniors as part of Chase’s commitment to alleviating hunger in the First State. The volunteer event took place as part of the Wilmington Grand Prix weekend festivities. While 200 cyclists competed against the clock and cobblestones of Monkey Hill, Chase volunteers packed more than 4,000 bags of food for our children’s Backpack Program and more than 20,000 meals for seniors at risk of hunger!
We closed out the month with a visit from NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Officials from Chase and AARP Drive to End Hunger were on hand to present a donation of 36,000 meals to distribute to area senior citizens. The donations consisted of the meals packaged during Chase’s May 17 Grand Prix food packing event, as well as meals that were later packed by NASCAR fans at the Dover International Speedway race on Sunday, June 2.
June: We officially kicked off our Community Supported Agriculture program on June 20 at the Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Springs Park. Through the new program we were able to provide low-cost produce shares to Delawareans in need. Participating households visited the market each week to pick up their full or half share and also received additional “coins” that could be used at other produce vendors in the market. The program also offered produce shares to members of the community for a cost of $250 or $500 for the entire growing season.
Five days later, Congressman John Carney visited our Milford Branch as part of his SNAP challenge week. During his visit he spoke with senior citizens who currently depend on SNAP benefits to make ends meet. In addition, he attended a SNAP-education nutrition class and helped distribute food from our mobile pantry vehicle. From June 18-June 25 Congressman Carney lived off a food budget of $4.50 per day, the average budget for people living on SNAP benefits, to learn more about the challenges of Delaware families struggling to get by and to gain a better understanding of the current structure of the program.
July: Bank of America announced in July at the Northeast State Service Center that it’s playing a role in alleviating hunger by donating $50,000 to our mobile pantry program. Fifteen Bank of America employees were on hand at a morning pantry to distribute food to 35 area families at risk of hunger. Just prior to the food distribution, bank employees presented an education session on financial literacy to pantry participants.
August: Students from The Culinary School participated in the first-ever Taste of Rehoboth. The event featured food, wine and beer samplings from some of the best restaurants Delaware has to offer. Students had the opportunity to work alongside some of Delaware’s best chefs. The event, sponsored by the Rehoboth Inspired Chef Iniative, raised $11,500 for The Culinary School in Milford.
September: We celebrated the grand opening of our expanded Milford Branch on September 20. The $2.6 million expansion includes the new Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware Culinary Kitchen, DuPont Volunteer Room and Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Culinary Classroom. The expansion doubles the size of the existing 8,000-square-foot warehouse. The project, designed by Delaware Architects, and managed by Richard Y Johnson & Son, allows us to increase hunger-relief programming through the creation of a new volunteer room and train adults for the food service industry and prepare meals for our Children’s Nutrition program through the new industrial-sized kitchen.
September’s Hunger Action Month also coincided with the official relaunch of the Coalition to End Hunger (formerly the Anti-Hunger Coalition). Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee joined the Coalition to End Hunger at Highland Orchards to announce the coalition’s priorities for the coming year. The mission of the Coalition to End Hunger is to coordinate the collaborative development of an equitable, accessible and just regional food system for the state of Delaware’s New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. The Coalition will focus on four areas in the coming year – increasing access to school breakfast for Delaware’s children, advocacy, healthy food financing and connecting area farmers to low-income Delawareans.
October: The annual Blue Jean Ball took place on Saturday, October 5. A new event format offered attendees entry at a lower price and a delicious Oktoberfest-themed menu from Iron Hill Brewery. Food stations were set up throughout the warehouse and each menu item was carefully paired with an Oktoberfest brew straight from Iron Hill! More than 250 attendees danced the night away to the sounds of Club Phred.
We ended the month with our DelawareCAN competition. A panel of judges from the Food Bank visited 15 schools and organizations to crown this year’s winners! A farm scene, huge lunch box, a power grid, a child reading, a mosque and other structures made of nonperishable foods were among the winners of our third annual DelawareCAN competition. In total we collected more than 46,000 pounds of food.
November: On November 20, AARP and the Food Bank of Delaware collaborated to produce, “Framing Hunger in Delaware,” a thought leadership roundtable discussion to help identify and find solutions to issues on hunger in Delaware. With the help of News Journal Executive Editor David Ledford as moderator, twenty-five corporate, non-profit and government leaders including representatives from all three Congressional offices, joined the discussion to help all the partners learn about hunger-related issues here in Delaware and in Washington D.C. Top priorities of the discussion included the Farm Bill, proposed federal cuts to SNAP and the effects of Delaware’s budget on the 50+ population and hunger.
December: Anti-hunger advocates gathered on Friday, December 13 outside the Delaware Department of Labor’s Pencader office to launch Share a Second Helping, a winter-long giving/awareness campaign. The kick-off coincided with a mobile food distribution for individuals utilizing the unemployment office. Share a Second Helping takes a three-pronged approach to assisting Delawareans this winter: Gather food and monetary resources to meet the immediate food needs of Delawareans during the winter months; educate at-risk Delawareans on available resources, including the services of Delaware 2-1-1; work with elected officials and stakeholders to implement long-term solutions to meet these nutritional needs through a strong federal safety net With a campaign goal of 100,000 pounds, campaign organizers encourage individuals, businesses, community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and others to host winter-long food drives and fundraisers.
We also celebrated the first graduating class of The Culinary School at the Milford Branch. Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter and the guidance of Brenda Palomo, Culinary School program manager, 11 students spent 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students took field trips to food processing plants and urban food markets, these students also worked in preparing and serving at Dinner in the Orchard and for a Trustees of Color reception.
As you can see, it’s been a great year at the Food Bank of Delaware! Thank you for your commitment to our vision of a community free of hunger! Here’s to a hunger-free 2014!