Category Archives: Children's Nutrition

Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at G.W. Carver Center

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Michele Murphy shows of G.W. Carver’s new school pantry, sponsored by the Harry K Foundation. In addition to backpacks, district families may also utilize the pantry.

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Many of the participants in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program are in elementary and middle school.

However, at the G.W. Carver Center in Frankford, there are 58 high school students enrolled in the Advanced Preliterate English Language Learners (APELL) program who are grateful to receive the weekend supply of food.

Many of them work in addition to going to school, said Michele Murphy, Parent Center Director. “They are some of the happiest kids. They want to learn. They are not greedy and appreciate whatever they are given.”

Some, she said, work in the poultry-processing plant in addition to attending school.

“It’s like giving them a million dollars in cash,” she said. Even though the Backpack Program is geared toward elementary-age students, the food makes a difference in these students’ lives.

The Backpack Program, now in its third week here, is distributed on Fridays.

“It’s inconspicuous,” said Mrs. Murphy, adding that the shelf-stable food packed in plastic bags is handed out in the three classrooms where the students are learning English, math and science.

“It’s better than nothing, and it’s a little variety,” she said.

“The students are thrilled. It’s been successful beyond our expectations. Who knows, the backpacks may keep them here.”

Mrs. Murphy said the students are not the only ones who benefit from the backpacks.

“The teachers are also very appreciative. They could tell the students need some nourishment over the weekend. They feel like Santa Claus,” she added.

Teacher Lori Ott agrees the backpacks are an important part of the students’ educational experiences.

“They appreciate it, and they are ready for them,” she said.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

 

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Partner Spotlight: After-School Nutrition Program at Gauger Middle School’s 4-H Program

Gauger 4H mentorsBy Kim Turner, Communications Director

Every weekday morning, a group of dedicated volunteers work alongside Food Bank of Delaware staff in both Newark and Milford to prepare healthy after-school meals. Volunteers spend each morning bagging sandwiches and other items and loading individual-sized milk cartons and fruit into coolers. A fleet of drivers deliver the meals and snacks to after-school programs up and down the state. For many children, the meal received after school is the last healthy meal of the day until going back to school the next morning.

On average we deliver 6,500 meals each week. So far this school year, we have distributed 97,378 meals.

Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), our after-school nutrition program fills a meal void for many Delaware families. We partner with after-school programs such as the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension’s 4-H after-school program. Targeting at-risk youth, the program is housed at 13 statewide locations, including Gauger Middle School in Newark.

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the group of 4-H mentors housed at Gauger Middle School. Mentor Sherice Brown and eight others (pictured above) work with a group of more than 40 students, providing after-school enrichment programs to students. The program lasts for two hours every schoolday afternoon. In addition to homework help and recreational activities, the students also enjoy an after-school meal prepared by our team of volunteers. When I visited, students had tuna fish with crackers, celery, oranges and milk. Some recent and future programming includes construction of wooden bird houses, a culture project, microwave magic healthy cooking demonstrations and a career day.

The mentors, employed by the University of Delaware, are thankful for an opportunity to provide students with a meal.

Volunteers are currently needed to help prepare meals in both Newark and Milford. Click here to sign up to help in the Milford kitchen and here to help in Newark.

Does your after-school program want to serve free meals? To qualify for the program, sites must operate in areas where at least 50 percent of the children attending the nearest school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. To learn more, please contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or kgooden@fbd.org.

 

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Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Philip C. Showell Elementary

0123_backpack01By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Each Friday, 61 students at Philip C. Showell Elementary School in Selbyville receive a bag of shelf-stable food for the weekend.

These students participate in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program, and according to Cheryl Carey, school counselor, gratefully and happily so.

Here’s how it works: Based on financial eligibility, parents can sign up their child (or children) through participating schools. It’s called the Backpack Program because a plastic bag filled with nutritionally sound and kid-friendly food, enough for the weekend, are placed in a child’s backpack.

“We call it Friday Friends,” said Ms. Carey, explaining how the school modified the backpack distribution process so that it’s easily incorporated into the school day.

“Last year, at the end of the day, the kids came to the cafeteria on the way to the bus,” she said.

But the program grew, and not unexpectedly, because 79 percent of the students in school serving Pre-K to grade 5 quality for free or reduced school lunches.

During the 2013-14 school year, 4,692 children in Delaware received weekend food through this backpack program at 125 sites state-wide.

With the weekly assistance from a retired teacher turned volunteer, the meals are delivered on a cart to each classroom.

Moya Stitzl, the volunteer, also prints out labels for each bag, further streamlining the distribution process.

“It’s important to make it normal. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no stigma attached,” she said.

The new system works.

“Everybody wants to be a friend,” said Ms. Carey.

“Our kids are really nice kids. They get it. They understand that some people need more help. This is such an extremely positive program, and I can’t thank the Food Bank enough.”

Lexi, Mason, Jesus and Daysia, all 5th grade students, all agreed: the crackers and juice were their favorites, and if they receive an item that they don’t enjoy, there’s always a sibling who will eat anything.

“I like to share it,” said Daysia.

Ms. Carey describes her school’s families as “hard-working parents. Our community is fabulous. The needs are there, but the needs are supported,” she said.

“I can’t say thank you enough to the Food Bank and to the volunteers.”

It costs $158 a year to provide one child with weekend food for one school year.

For more information on how to volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware or to support the backpack program, visit www.fbd.org.

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Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Gallaher Elementary

Backpack 2014By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Last year we distributed more than 129,000 bags of weekend food through our Backpack Program, a meal program for children who are at risk of going without meals on the weekends and during school holidays. We are already on pace to exceed that number. For children at 136 participating schools, the Backpack Program is a lifeline for thousands.

Maria Weeks is the school nurse at Gallaher Elementary School in Newark. She also coordinates the program for more than 50 children each week and sees firsthand the benefit of the program. “Students don’t have enough food. Period,” she says.

Families who utilize the program experience a variety of hardships. From being homeless to losing jobs and downsizing to changes in the food stamp program and insurance benefits, families who participate come from all walks of life.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with both Maria and William, a father of two Gallaher Backpack participants.

William is currently laid off from his seasonal job. Work is plentiful in the spring, summer and part of fall, but once the cold weather settles in, he is unemployed. When he is working he is barely making above minimum wage. To help make ends meet, three generations currently live in William’s Newark home.

“If it wasn’t for the Backpack Program, it would be tighter,” he explains. “I wouldn’t be able to explore with other healthy foods.”

Because of the Backpack Program, his family is eating healthy.

“There’s been times where I didn’t eat, but one meal every other day. I still don’t eat until the kids have eaten and every else has,” he says.

Maria says that kids who participate in the program are excited to receive their bags each week. “Families are very grateful for the program. It has been very helpful,” she says.

For school leaders who are on the fence about participating, Maria urges schools to sign up.

“It’s not a lot of work. Kids are cooperative because they want it,” she explains. “It’s not as hard as it sounds at first, and the monthly paperwork is minor.”

Maria points out that school meals are sometimes the only meals received by students. “How can you expect a child to learn who is hungry? Kids who are hungry can’t learn.”

She knows there are more families who can benefit, but many are too proud to ask for help.

“It took me a long time to begin accepting help,” says William. “You feel like you are not capable of supporting your family.”

When times get tough, William will utilize a local food pantry for assistance, but he says, “I don’t like taking the help unless I absolutely need it.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

 

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Harry K. Foundation, Food Bank of Delaware mark grand opening of Indian River School District school pantry at G.W. Carver Educational Center

Harry KThanks to a generous donation from the Harry K. Foundation, anti-hunger advocates officially cut the ribbon on the new school pantry at the G.W. Carver Educational Center this morning.

Funds were raised at last year’s Harry K. Christmas Ball. Support from the Harry K Foundation allowed the food bank to provide 103 children from Sussex County with a backpack full of food for the entire school year and to open nine new school pantries in Sussex County schools, including the one at G.W. Carver.

Through the program, at-risk families with students enrolled in the Indian River School District will be able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting the food pantry. The new pantry will offer a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items. Families will select food based on their household’s needs each week. Food for the pantry will be provided by the Food Bank of Delaware and school-wide food drives or community donations.

“Hunger is all around us and it is our civic responsibility to feed our people,” said Harry K. Foundation Founder Harry Keswani. “We are happy to work in cooperation with the Food Bank of Delaware and our local schools to feed our children and their families. We ask our local people and business owners to join us by donating to the Harry K. Foundation so that we can bring food pantries to more schools.”

“According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 18.3 percent of Delaware’s children live in food insecure households,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are thankful for the Harry K Foundation’s support to ensure that families in Sussex County have access to nutritious foods for their household.”

Child food insecurity is highest in Sussex County with 20.2 percent of children living in food insecure households.

“I am so happy that we have been able to open this and other pantries in our communities, but our task has only just begun,” said Harry K Foundation Spokesman Tim Buckmaster. “No child should go to bed hungry or worry about when the next meal may be. Together we can and will make a difference.”

“When our students’ basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are not being met, it is very difficult for them to excel at school and for their families to support their education at home,” said Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting. Our district parent center was created to provide families with the tools they need to support student achievement – both academically and personally. The food pantry will be a great extension of these efforts and an important resource for our district families.”

The second annual Harry K Foundation Christmas Ball will be held on Saturday, December 6 at the Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Tickets are $250/person and can be purchased by visiting http://www.harrykfoundation.org/Harry-K-Foundation-Ball.html. Proceeds will help fight childhood hunger in Sussex County.

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Partner Spotlight: ERC Resource House

The Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative Resource House is tucked away in the Edgemoor Gardens neighborhood just north of the city of Wilmington. With a neighborhood of close to 2,000 residents, the ERC Resource House provides empowerment opportunities for residents.

Under the leadership of Cheri Whitney, Edgemoor Gardens became one of ten Blueprint Communities in Delaware focused on improved sustainability and quality of life for families. The Blueprint program in Delaware is a partnership between the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the University of Delaware Center for Community Research. The program provides intensive training, technical assistance, coaching as well as initial seed funding to competitively selected neighborhoods throughout the state to help them formulate plans to revitalize their communities.

Through the Resource House, families have access a number of resources to help lift them out of poverty. Whitney says the goal of the Resource House is to create a family environment.

“We have a core group of 40-50 residents who are ready to take the community to the next level of comfort,” she says. “We want to make this a community of choice where people want to live here.”

Over the summer, the Food Bank of Delaware provided free meals to children in Edgemoor Gardens through the Summer Food Service Program and weekend meals through the Summer Backpack Program. Each day 50 children visited the Resource House for a nutritious lunch.

“If it wasn’t for Cheri, half the kids in the neighborhood would not have meals,” said one parent during lunchtime.

In addition to distributing free meals all summer long, ERC also distributed backpacks just before the start of school thanks to the generosity of the Wilmington Flower Market.

Programming at the ERC Resource House is yearlong. Whitney and her team are proud to host an after-school teen program, funded by the Delaware Department of Education. Participants attend the program Monday-Thursday and take field trips to colleges and hold career days and more.

Gardens also play an important role in creating a healthier, happier and greener community. Gardens are spread throughout the community educating community members about healthy eating and beautifying the community.

Check out some more pictures from our visit to ERC!

 

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School Breakfast Spotlight: Wilbur Elementary

This morning several of our staff members joined State Senator Nicole Poore and representatives from the Colonial School District to see firsthand their successful school breakfast program at Wilbur Elementary.

As students filtered off the busses, they headed straight to the cafeteria to grab a healthy breakfast. Students were greeted by smiling teachers, cafeteria personnel, Colonial School District Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey, Principal Beth Howell and others. As students lined up in the cafeteria, they chose from a variety of breakfast options – milk and juice, yogurt, bagels, fruit, cereal, banana bread and more! Kindergarten classrooms receive their breakfast in a basket. A student helper stops by the cafeteria and delivers the basket to the classroom.

Since all Wilbur students receive free breakfast and lunch meals as a result of the Community Eligibility Provision, no cash transactions took place; cafeteria workers simply tallied the number of meals served with a clicker. Plastic bags were available for students to carry their nutritious breakfasts back for consumption in the classroom.

The team at Wilbur Elementary showed us how easy implementation of an alternative breakfast model is with a dedicated team of teachers, cafeteria personnel, custodial staff and administrators! Kids were in and out of the cafeteria in no time.

Back in the classroom, while kids ate breakfast, teachers engaged students in instructional time. Kindergarten students ate quietly as they sat around a table, first graders ate breakfast while singing a song to help with a lesson and fourth graders began working on the day’s assignments as they enjoyed milk, cereal, fruit and bagels. Breakfast did not impede on the day’s plans, and all students started the day with a full belly ready to tackle the day’s assignments.

To help with cleanup, each classroom has a trash can for disposal. After breakfast, custodial staff travel the hallways to pick up the bags. Each can is replaced with a new bag, and the can becomes the classroom recycling bin. The staff at Wilbur showed that breakfast can be as easy as 1-2-3!

Colonial School Nutrition Supervisor Paula Angelucci says feeding kids is a priority in the Colonial School District. “It’s all about the kids,” she says. Paula credits the success of the breakfast program to a team of dedicated administrators. In order for breakfast to work, administrative buy-in is crucial, she explains.

To help increase statewide participation, we announced our first-ever School Breakfast Challenge last spring. The challenge is an opportunity for schools making major gains in breakfast participation to win cash awards for their performance.

Thanks to a partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Education, ten awards ranging from $3,000 to $500 will be made available to eight district schools and two charter or nonpublic schools. The cash grants will be awarded to the school with the highest breakfast participation in October 2014 and the most-improved breakfast participation from October 2013 to October 2014. Winners will be announced in early 2015.

To learn more about the School Breakfast Challenge, click here.

Is your school a school breakfast superstar? Let us know! We’d love to visit!

Check out more pictures from this morning’s visit!

 

 

 

 

 

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