Category Archives: Agriculture

Seniors benefit from CSA program; fresh produce boosts health during the summer and beyond

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Jimmie Scott and her husband, Benjamin, are beyond grateful for the support they have received from the Food Bank of Delaware.

The Frederica residents are senior citizens, coping with issues that face many in their age group: their income is very limited and they have serious health issues. Mrs. Scott is disabled, her husband retired with a small Social Security check, and their godson, Hassan, moved in with them.

His presence has been a godsend to them, Mrs. Scott said.

photoTheir situation became extremely challenging last winter when they had no food in the house, and they lost electricity. The Scotts found help from the Calvary Assembly of God in Dover, one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s more than 600 community partners in food distribution.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I don’t know where we would have been,” said Mrs. Scott during a phone interview.

“They set us up for the senior boxes.”

Through their eligibility for assistance, one thing led to another, and in the spring the Scotts signed up for the discounted ($20) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through the Food Bank of Delaware. So from mid-June to Oct. 1, the Scotts had access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

They picked up a box of seasonally fresh produce each Wednesday at the Milford branch.

Traditionally, CSA members invested in a farm during the winter and collected their produce shares weekly in the summer. The Food Bank of Delaware uses a modified CSA model to distribute fresh, locally-grown produce to everyone, regardless of income.

The contents of the package vary from week to week, depending on what is in season. In addition to receiving farm fresh produce, some shareholders also received tokens to be used around their local farmers market to purchase SNAP-approved items such as artisan bread, fresh eggs, local honey, homemade pasta and much more.

Mrs. Scott described the abundance of fresh food the family received each week.

“I need those fresh vegetables. What’s extra, we freeze for winter, the fresh limas and green beans and carrots. We love those fresh peaches, and we can’t freeze the watermelon,” she said.

“We like that we have it (fresh vegetables) all winter long. We really like that.”

For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs, visit www.fbd.org.

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Growing fresh foods with the New Castle County Master Gardeners

New Castle County Master Gardeners have been working hard all summer tending to their demonstration garden outside the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension office in Newark.

Produce grown in the garden is donated to the Food Bank and Little Sisters of the Poor. Last year, the group donated close to 900 pounds!

Master Gardener Rick Judd leads the group of dedicated volunteers who spend time weeding, watering, pruning, harvesting and more to make sure the demonstration garden is in tip-top shape. The garden serves three purposes – teaches the community best practices for vegetable and fruit gardening, shows how easy it is to compost and provides an opportunity for Master Gardeners to donate fresh foods to Delawareans in need.

The 288-square-foot garden has produced more than 300 pounds of food for the Food Bank so far this year. Rick says the gardeners are now harvesting some of their heaviest crops including sweet potatoes, squash and cantaloupe. Cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh herbs are also growing in abundance.

The demonstration garden also features unique ways to grow fruits and vegetables, especially if space is limited. Squash and cantaloupe are grown vertically on a trellis, beans and Swiss chard are grown in plastic containers traditionally used for storage and raised beds are home to healthy beets.

While Labor Day is just around the corner, growing will continue through the chilly fall months at the demonstration garden.

“This is a great month to get your fall crops in,” advises Rick. “Some you can sew in directly. I would actually start raising [seeds] under the lights. Now is a good time to start planting seeds such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower. Start them inside under the light about six weeks before you want to put them out. As they mature, they prefer the cooler weather of the fall.”

For those who are new to gardening, Rick says three ingredients are needed – sun, soil and water!

To learn more about the Master Gardeners in New Castle County, please click here.

Check out some photos of the demonstration garden!

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Food Lion Offers Customers an Opportunity to Gain Free Admittance to Delaware State Fair during “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” on July 27

IMG_8325Food Lion, the Delaware State Fair and the Food Bank of Delaware announced today that the fourth annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” will take place on Monday, July 27 at the Delaware State Fair.

Fair attendees who bring five Food Lion brand canned or boxed goods will in exchange receive free gate admittance to the Delaware State Fair from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Monday, July 27. This community effort is part of the fourth annual “Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day” at the Delaware State Fair.

“At Food Lion, we believe no one should have to choose between dinner and paying rent or gasoline and buying groceries,” said Bob Mills, Food Lion’s execution and implementation specialist for the Delaware market. “That’s why we’re so passionate about helping to end hunger in our local communities. We know the community’s help from past events has helped us to feed people who otherwise would have to make those tough choices.”

Donations received through this year’s effort will assist families in Kent and Sussex Counties struggling to put food on the IMG_8312table. More than 43,000 residents of Kent and Sussex counties are considered food insecure, meaning their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.

“Last year was a great success as we collected 26,238 meals for residents of Kent and Sussex Counties who are struggling with hunger,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “With the help of our community, we hope to exceed last year’s total and stock our local food pantries with much-needed essentials.”

“The Delaware State Fairs is thankful for the continued support from Food Lion as we continue to work year after year in collecting the much-needed food to help support the community,” said Assistant General Manager for the Delaware State Fair, Danny Aguilar.

Volunteers from Food Lion, Lake Forest School District, the Delaware State Fair and the Food Bank of Delaware will accept donations at all gates. No items stored in glass will be accepted. Some of the Food Bank of Delaware’s most-needed items include the following:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Tuna fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats
  • Cereal
  • Pasta

For more information about the Delaware State Fair, please visit www.delawarestatefair.com.

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CSA program benefits everyone

   By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program got off to a great start today as more than 100 boxes went out from distribution sites at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch and at the Downtown Dover Farmers’ Market.

New Castle County residents will pick up boxes on Thursday in Newark and the Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Springs Park.

Folks claiming their shares in Dover were excited to have fresh lettuce, blueberries, green onion, red potatoes, herbs, squash, tomatoes and cantaloupe.

Though CSA is a relatively new concept, most people are aware that it’s an opportunity to buy shares of local produce that are boxed, and then picked up weekly throughout the growing season.

The cost for a full share is $500 (with $100 tax deductible) or $250 for a half share ($50 tax deductible), and payment options are available by visiting www.fbd.org/program/csa. The program can also be pro-rated for those who sign up later in the season. Those who purchase a season’s share are also sponsoring 2.5 shares for families in need, so everyone benefits.

Those who meet income guidelines can register and purchase a half share for $5/week or full for $10/week.

Janice, a Dover senior citizen, was first to pick up her share, and brought her own bags to carry the produce.

“I can’t afford to buy the bagged salad mix. It allows me to eat better. I’m on a fixed income, and I love it,” said the retired homemaker.

She also likes trying the recipes that are included each week. This week’s recipe, for example, was for a chilled cantaloupe soup.

Don Boucek of Camden echoed Janice’s sentiments.

“I like the vegetables. It changes my eating habits with more fruit, like strawberries and watermelon,” he said.

Smyrna residents, Rebecca and Sandy, are first-time sponsors in the program, each purchasing a half share.

“I like fresh produce, locally grown and it helps the Food Bank. It’s a win-win situation,” she said.

Sandy, a dietitian, said she talked her friend into signing up for the CSA boxes.

“We can pick up for each other, if one is on vacation. I’m so excited. It makes us eat well,” she said.

Contents for the Food Bank’s CSA program come from the historic Laurel Farmers’ Auction Market. Calvin Musser, manager, said the season starts in June with squash, cucumbers and peppers, with corn arriving in late June.

The CSA boxes also include fresh leafy vegetables, herbs, tomatoes, fruit and root vegetables as they are grown locally. Each full share is enough to feed a family of four for a week.

To learn more, contact Barb Brkovich, CSA Program Coordinator at (302) 292-1305 ext 204 or bbrkovich@fbd.org. Individuals may also visit http://www.fbd.org/program/csa.

 

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Food Bank, veterans partner for growing experience

Christina Moore, activities therapist, shows off the new beds at the Delaware Veterans Home.

Christina Moore, activities therapist, shows off the new beds at the Delaware Veterans Home.

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

In mid-April, the Food Bank of Delaware built raised garden beds inside a courtyard of one of its neighbors. These gardens are specifically for residents of the Delaware Veterans Home located about a half mile away on the other side of Airport Road in Milford.

The wood-framed garden beds are wheelchair accessible, making it easier for residents not only to harvest, but also to plant and weed and simply enjoy.

The beds were installed by Matthew Talley, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Produce Access Coordinator, who also planted strawberries, herbs, lettuce and tomatoes as part of the inaugural crop.

Nancy Gelven, activities coordinator, and Christina Moore, activities therapist, were delighted to see the garden fixtures in place, as was Cindy Schaap, volunteer services coordinator.

“We have been attempting gardens for many years,” said Nancy, noting that the height will encourage residents to get involved.

These gardens are meant to be sustainable throughout Delaware’s growing season.

“Matthew also left us with more seeds, tools and even gloves,” she said, pointing to a large bench-like box loaded with gardening supplies.

Beets, corn, carrots, sweet peppers and radish seeds were also planted in flats, so there are seedlings to transplant.

“The guys really like it,” said Nancy, noting that residents discussed what they wanted to grow.

“There’s just nothing like getting your hands in the dirt.”

In addition to enjoying the bounty of the garden, Nancy said it offers other opportunities.

“The residents are looking to give back. They will use some, and what we don’t use will go back to the food bank,” she said.

Talley said that all local gardeners are also invited to share their home-grown produce through the Plant-a-Row program.

“The Food Bank is moving towards a model that incorporates more fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the traditional shelf-stable and non-perishable goods,” he added.

If your organization is interested in starting a community garden to benefit the Food Bank through the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry Initiative, please contact Matthew Talley at (302) 292-1305 ext 249 or via email at mtalley@fbd.org for ideas and support. You can also visit http://www.fbd.org/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry/.

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CSA program provides fresh, local produce; sign up to benefit self, others

CSA june 2014Delaware’s summer growing season is almost here, and it’s time to sign up for the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) through the Food Bank of Delaware.

Though CSA is a relatively new concept, most people are aware that it’s an opportunity to buy shares of local produce that are boxed, and then picked up weekly throughout the growing season.

Starting in mid-June, participants in the Food Bank’s CSA will be able to pick up at a location close to their home: the Food Bank’s Newark warehouse (sponsor shares only), Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Springs Park, Downtown Dover Farmers’ Market or the Food Bank’s Milford Branch.

The cost for a full share is $500 (with $100 tax deductible) or $250 for a half share ($50 tax deductible), and payment options are available by visiting www.fbd.org/program/csa. The program can also be pro-rated for those who sign up later in the season.

Contents for the Food Bank’s CSA program come from the historic Laurel Farmers’ Auction Market. Calvin Musser, manager, said the season starts in June with squash, cucumbers and peppers, with corn arriving in late June.

The CSA boxes also include fresh leafy vegetables, herbs, tomatoes, fruit and root vegetables as they are grown locally. Each full share is enough to feed a family of four for a week.

Barbara Brkovich, the Food Bank’s CSA Program Coordinator, describes this program as a “win, win, win” for everyone: local farmers, the shareholders and the community members. The Food Bank modified the conventional CSA model to assist families in need, allowing them to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from their local farmers’ markets.

Each Sponsor share allows the Food Bank of Delaware to subsidize 2.5 shares for families in need.

For families with limited incomes, half shares are available for $5/week, while full shares are $10 (a deposit is required to hold your spot). Shares can be paid using an EBT card or cash. Pick up is available weekly at the Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Springs Park, the Downtown Dover Farmers’ Market or the Food Bank’s Milford Branch. Families also receive tokens to use at market vendors at the two farmers’ markets.

To learn more, please visit www.fbd.org/program/csa/ or contact Brkovich at, (302) 292-1305 ext 204 or bbrkovich@fbd.org.

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J.G. Townsend Jr. & Company donates close to 60,000 pounds of frozen produce to Food Bank of Delaware

Pictured (left to right): Solomon Henry (Plant Manager), Chad Robinson (Milford Branch Director), Roger Townsend (Company Owner), Bill Lingo (Company Owner), John Lingo (Company Owner), Gene Bayard (Company Owner), Derrick Lingo (Company Owner) and Paul Townsend (Company Owner). Not pictured: Owner Bryce Lingo

Pictured (left to right): Solomon Henry (Plant Manager), Chad Robinson (Milford Branch Director), Roger Townsend (Company Owner), Bill Lingo (Company Owner), John Lingo (Company Owner), Gene Bayard (Company Owner), Derrick Lingo (Company Owner) and Paul Townsend (Company Owner). Not pictured: Owner Bryce Lingo

Remember Talley’s blog from a few weeks ago announcing a donation of 40,000 pounds of fresh, locally-grown produce from J.G. Towsend Jr. & Company? Well, we are excited to announce that the Georgetown company has donated an additional 19,000-plus pounds to us! This brings their total donation to close to 60,000 pounds of frozen black-eyed peas, green peas and beans!

The donation filled close to 6 Food Bank of Delaware trucks. The bulk produce will be individually-packaged as part of our new Produce Access Program. The program’s aim is to provide more fruits and vegetables to low-income Delawareans. This initiative shifts the organization towards a more proactive food sourcing strategy and commits additional resources to ensure a better, more consistent supply of produce.

Food Bank of Delaware volunteers will bag up the donated produce in to 6”x10” pouches. The bags are placed into coolers to ensure proper temperature control while they await the vacuum sealer. Once they are sealed, labels are affixed to the bags with information about the product, the food bank’s address and cooking instructions. Volunteers take the finished bags and pack them into cases before they are brought back into the freezer for temporary storage.

“Everyone at J.G. Townsend is once again excited to be able to partner with the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Owner Lloyd Richter. “We look forward to a long-lasting relationship in the fight against hunger in our state.”

“We are so thankful for J.G. Townsend Jr. & Company’s generosity,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “The donation is our largest since launching our new Produce Access Program. We hope J.G. Townsend’s kindness will inspire other local growers and processors to assist with our efforts to alleviate hunger in the state.”

For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s new Produce Access Program, please contact Matt Talley, Produce Access Program Coordinator, at (302) 292-1305 ext 249 or mtalley@fbd.org.

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