By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern
As the Communications Intern for the Food Bank of Delaware, my boss and I take field trips every sooften so I can see the different aspects of how the Food Bank of Delaware works and serves our community. On Tuesday, Kim and I visited the food pantry at Zion Lutheran Church in Wilmington. Zion’s food pantry is operated by our partner,Lutheran Community Services.
The food pantry is a well-oiled machine run by Minnie McGuire. As the coordinator, she manages the back office, the kitchen pantry and the client interactions. When I arrived, they were in the midst of distribution. I first met Minnie and Sandy Betley, Programs Director for Lutheran Community Services.
Minnie says Zion serves people of all different backgrounds. Many are seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Volunteer Anne assists Minnie in the office by taking phone calls from referring agencies, managing the incoming paperwork, and keeping track of the clients served.
Anne has been volunteering with the food pantry for more than 10 years and remembers shopping at the local grocery store in order to stock the shelves of the pantry. Thanks to Zion’s partnership with Lutheran Community Services at the Food Bank of Delaware, they are able to use the resources of both agencies to make sure their clients’ needs are met.
“I do it because I think I am helping people,” she says.
After learning more about how Zion handles paperwork, we proceeded to the kitchen where I met Richard, who was the only volunteer available to pack bags full of household food staples. Richard and his wife utilize food assistance services, and he told me that he loves volunteering at the Zion Food Pantry. He said, “After all they’ve done for me, this is how I can give back.”
From my visit, I learned that each food closet of the Food Bank of Delaware operates differently. Some pantries provide pre-packed bags or boxes, while others provide families with the opportunity to choose from a variety of items.
At Zion, clients must sign in upon arrival. Clients are referred to Zion from local organizations
and state agencies. Referral papers are organized in the office and then brought back to the kitchen, where bags are stocked with the required groceries that meet the clients’ needs. Their food is delivered to them in the main lobby, and their name is checked off in the book after they sign a release form that they have received their food.
While in the waiting area for the clients, Kim and I encountered a young woman named Lisa, and she told us her story. Lisa is a single mother of three children. Unfortunately, her children’s father does not help to support the kids. She has been in and out of school, trying to complete a degree in psychology, while supporting her children. Lisa also told us that the summer is the most difficult time for affording food, because her children are home and out of school. Providing two extra meals each day during the summer adds an extra expense to her household budget.
“My job is to stress out,” she explains. “My kids’ job is to go out and get a good education and live a better life than I do. I do the struggle for them
, by walking to the food pantry.”
Lisa says there have been times when she has skipped meals in order to provide her children a full nutritious meal.
Visiting the Zion Food Pantry in Wilmington was a very enlightening experience and shows the important role the Food Bank of Delaware and its network of partners play in the community.
If you are in need of emergency food assistance or know someone in need, please dial 2-1-1 for Delaware 2-1-1. They will refer callers to a local organization that can assist.