Labor Day weekend is upon us, the unofficial end to the summer season! The summer is always a busy season for the Food Bank of Delaware. Our staff works hard to ensure that children who rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year have access to free, nutritious meals during the summer months.
Thanks to partnerships with ConAgra Foods and Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation, we were able to explore new ways to deliver free meals to children during the summer months. These methods are in addition to the traditional way of distributing meals through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program!
The ConAgra Foundation’s $20,000 donation earlier this spring made it possible for us to pilot a mobile meals program. Monday through Friday, summer meals drivers Lanier Williams and Joe Matthews delivered and helped with meal service at six sites throughout New Castle County.
The mobile meal program worked on a simple premise. Lanier and Joe loaded meals and drinks into their refrigerated vans and drove to each site. ConAgra’s generous donation also enabled us to hire park coordinators, Bhumika, Calida and Tony, to not only help Lanier and Joe with meal service, but also organize fun and games for kids living in the communities where meals were served.
At each site the drivers set up tables and chairs so the kids could sit and enjoy their meal. Once the meal was served, the drivers headed to the next site to meet another coordinator for the next meal service.
In total, 1,715 meals were served through the mobile meal pilot program and three special events were held to build awareness of the free meal program to neighborhood families!
Our first awareness event was held at Dickey Park in Newark and we received a special guest visit from former NFL kicker, Sean Landeta, thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Council! A barbeque lunch was prepared by students from The Culinary School and the Food Bank’s nutrition education team hosted cooking demonstrations and informational sessions!
In addition to our ConAgra Summer Mobile Meals Program, we also finished our third year hosting a Grab and Go program sponsored by Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation.
Traditional summer meal programs require children to remain on site while they eat. However, through the Grab and Go program, children visit a designated location in their neighborhood and pick up meals for the day. At the beginning of the summer, each program participant received an insulated bag and ice packs to carry their meals each day.
Thanks to partnerships with 11 statewide sites, we were able to distribute 30,404 meals!
These meal programs would not have been possible without the support of volunteers. Volunteers helped prepare meals in the kitchen, pack meals in our volunteer room and helped clean coolers upon their return to our warehouses!
Thanks to all who helped us create a hunger-free summer for Delaware children!