Volunteers needed for children’s summer feeding program

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Miracle, a youth volunteer, shows off a packed meal bag for the Giant Food-sponsored Grab and Go program.

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Summer time and living is easy? Maybe in song lyrics, but not for children who depend on free or reduced lunches during the school year. For those kids, summer can be very challenging.

That’s where the Food Bank of Delaware’s Summer Food Service Program fills the gap.

We serve free meals to children during the summer through this program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Delaware Department of Education. This year’s program starts June 15 and runs through the middle of August.

So while many people still think that holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are the busiest time for the food bank, we are busier during the summer months providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to low-income children.

We need volunteers to make this program work because these meals are packed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s two sites, Newark and Milford, then transported to apartment complexes, child care centers, low-income neighborhoods and other sites.

During the summer of 2014, the Food Bank delivered more than 190,000 meals to children. The meals are planned to feature healthy, kid-friendly foods, including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, grilled chicken on a whole-wheat roll, yogurt, oranges, nectarines, celery sticks and more.

Chad Robinson, Milford branch manager, encourages people to volunteer to help support this program.

“While the Food Bank of Delaware always needs volunteers, they are more essential to us in the summer simply because the needs of children are so much greater. The summer leaves those children who receive free or reduced lunches in a vacuum. Volunteers are our backbone in providing meals to kids in Kent and Sussex counties,” he said.

Volunteers can help as individuals or in a group or team, but each person much schedule in advance so that we can be prepared. There is no need to make a long-term commitment, but regular volunteering is welcome, of course.

Questions about volunteering? Please contact the volunteer department at volunteer@fbd.org or (302) 444-8075 (New Castle County) or volunteerinmilford@fbd.org or (302) 393-2011 (Kent/Sussex counties). Volunteers may also sign up online at http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

Sites wishing to receive meals from the Food Bank of Delaware may call Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or kgooden@fbd.org.

Families in need of free summer meals may text FOOD to 877-877 or dial 2-1-1 to locate sites closest to their homes.

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