Category Archives: Children's Nutrition

Summer meals at Delaware libraries

0815_SelbyvillewebBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Libraries offer more than books: they are community centers.

Four libraries in southern Sussex County offered Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) through the Food Bank of Delaware for the first time this summer. One in New Castle County participated in the program.

Meals distributed through the program are kid-friendly and nutritionally balanced.

Sussex County libraries in Delmar, Seaford, Frankford and Selbyville opened their doors at lunch time to offer free meals to children up to age 18. While some served lunch five days a week, others were limited by space and volunteer hands to serve the kids once or twice a week.

No pre-registration was required, so at most sites neighborhood children simply walked to their local library.

Selbyville’s library is housed in a historic home in the heart of town. It’s easily accessible to neighborhood children, so the SFSP has been quite successful.

“There is a need, for sure,” said Kelly Kline, library director. “We serve a number of big families. We try to keep a home-like atmosphere.”

Kids ate lunch in a craft room area adjacent to the children’s library, and then most stuck around to use the computers or play with Legos.

“We stack programs around the meals. The kids are walking. Their parents are working, and they may not have air conditioning. Why not have something for them to do?” she said.

In Delmar, Jessica Webb, the library director, offered lunches on Monday and Wednesday from a downtown site across from the fire company. Although the building will be renovated and the library officially moved to temporary facilities on U.S. 13, Webb thought the walker-accessible location would better serve the kids’ needs.

Like most sites, Webb planned activities to coincide with the meals. After lunch was served, children were offered a story-time followed by an opportunity to play with Legos until 2 p.m.

And while no registration was necessary, Webb and other library directors found attendance was quite unpredictable. Delmar, for example, served 55 children one week and only a handful later in the summer.

IMG_1316web“The kids really enjoyed it,” she said.

Laura Prophet, a children’s librarian at the Seaford Library, shared similar experiences. She, too, planned activities, including movies, around the meals, and she relied on volunteers to help serve children lunch each Monday.

The challenge, she admitted, was serving as many as 40 children and as few as three.

“I definitely want to participate next year,” said Frankford Library director Rachel Wackett. “We were very pleased. It’s a good thing for the community.”

She too paired the lunches with an activity, an opportunity for free play. Next summer, she may offer a program.

“There are so many benefits to this we didn’t expect,” she added.

Libraries interested in participating in next year’s Summer Meal Program should contact Tyler Yoder at tyoder@fbd.org. For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware, visit http://www.fbd.org.

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Partner Spotlight: Burton Village

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By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

What do you get when you combine a lively group of volunteers, a healthy lunch, and a neighborhood full of hungry kids?

A great summer picnic and a good time for everyone.

At least that’s how it seemed on a hot summer afternoon at Burton Village in Rehoboth Beach.

Chris Miller-Marcin chairs the Feed the Children program run by volunteers from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lewes and St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Rehoboth. The Food Bank of Delaware provides lunches through the Summer Food Service Program, one that offers free meals to children statewide.

The Food Bank of Delaware prepares and delivers sandwiches or salads, beverages (milk or juice) and usually a fruit to neighborhoods, child-care centers, churches or a site where committed adult volunteers serve the kids.

IMG_1306webThe group of volunteers representing the two churches is extremely committed: they visit three sites in the area, and they bring extra things, such as school supplies and games to play with the kids who come out to enjoy a meal and some camaraderie.

Chris is in the middle of a process called discernment; she wants to get accepted into a program to become a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A retired corporate chef and foods service manager, the Milford resident exudes enthusiasm.

“It’s my passion. I have a passion for food, and for children,” she said.

Most of the kids come with siblings, and quite a few took advantage of a tarp spread under a shade tree to eat their lunch, picnic style.

Each of the volunteers had a designated task, including the setting up and packing, and all took time to talk with the kids, to offer them a drink, a notebook for school.

“It’s not just about the food,” said Chris.

The program, which started at Burton Village in July, continues through mid-August. To date this summer, more than 65,000 meals have been delivered to kids up and down the state.

For more information about the Summer Food Service Program at the Food Bank of Delaware, click here.

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Summer meals at Wilton Park

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Thanks to a generous grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation, we are able to offer free meals through mobile meal sites to our community this summer! Lanier Williams, our Mobile Meals Summer Driver, travels from community to community in New Castle County delivering meals to children. In addition to our mobile meal sites, we provide meals to 90+ other sites up and down the state.

Lanier begins the day by packing his van with tables, chairs and coolers filled with meals and milk. The coolers are all packed by a dedicated team of volunteers, and all of the meals follow the guidelines for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). A park coordinator meets Lanier at each stop to help set up tables and chairs and distribute meals to the kids.

Last Friday, I stopped by the mobile meal site at Wilton Park in New Castle. Located in a highly residential area where hundreds of kids live, a mobile meal site in the park is a perfect spot. When I arrived, there were already many kids playing in the park, patiently waiting for the mobile meal van’s 1:30 p.m. arrival time.

The van pulled up at 1:30 on the dot – right on time! Lanier, and Kirsten, our Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, began unloading the van and setting up tables and chairs in a nice shaded area. As soon as the kids saw the back door of the van open up, they came running!

Lanier and Kirsten distributed cups of balsamic chicken, a bread stick, fruit and milk. The kids loved the meal!

Once the meals were gobbled up, the kids cleaned up their trash and darted back to the playground and basketball courts. Thanks to ConAgra’s generosity, the kids had full bellies for the rest of the afternoon!

More than 15 children enjoyed a free meal at Wilton Park on Friday, and Lanier says the number of kids grows each day as word spreads.

Mobile meals are available at the following sites:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday:
Hudson State Service Center, Newark
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Monday-Friday
Dickey Park, Newark
12:00 p.m.

Monday-Friday
Centennial Park, Bear
12:45 p.m.

Monday-Friday
Wilton Park, New Castle
1:30 p.m.

To find other meal sites sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware and other statewide partners, dial 2-1-1, text FOOD to 877-877 or visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.

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Food Bank of Delaware kicks off “Hunger-Free Summer”

We kicked off our 2015 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) with a Summer Fun Fair for kids and adults at Newark’s Dickey Park on Friday afternoon!

More than 60 children and adults gathered for a free lunch provided by students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, activities, a cooking demo and inspiring words from retired NFL punter Sean Landeta. At the conclusion of the event, adults received a 30-pound meal box from the food bank’s mobile pantry. Special thanks to the team from Bank of America for helping out with the afternoon event!

The kickoff event was made possible thanks to a $20,000 Hunger-Free Summer grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation. In addition, the generous grant will allow us to operate mobile meal sites in New Castle County. A driver will travel from site to site delivering meals, and a Food Bank of Delaware park coordinator will distribute the meals.

Children will be able to visit one of three park sites, Dickey Park in Newark (Monday-Friday; 12:00 p.m.), Centennial Park in Bear (Monday-Friday; 12:45 p.m.) and Wilton Park in New Castle (Monday-Friday; 1:30 p.m.), to receive a free nutritious meal.

Two additional sites are at the Middletown State Service Center (meals served Tuesday and Thursday; 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.) and Hudson State Service Center (meals served Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.). State Service Center sites are available to clients’ children visiting the center.

The Food Bank of Delaware will provide free meals to 92 other sites throughout the summer. 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. No paperwork is needed for a child to visit a SFSP site.

“The Hunger Free Summer grant allows us to provide meals to kids, so they don’t have to worry about food, and have more time to run, play and be kids,” says Charlotte McGarry, Food Bank of Delaware Programs Director. “Working with Feeding America and our partners at ConAgra Foods Foundation through the Hunger Free Summer program, we will be able to provide more healthy meals to more children in our community.”

One more Summer Fun Fair is planned for tomorrow at Centennial Park in Bear.

Children and teens up to age 18 are eligible to receive free meals. To locate free meals, families can text FOOD to 877-877 or dial 2-1-1.

Check out some more photos from the Summer Fun Fair!

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Backpacks are a hit at Reily Brown Elementary School

Barbara Smith, a Paraprofessional, at Reily Brown Elementary, helps with the school's weekly backpack distribution!

Barbara Smith, a Paraprofessional, at Reily Brown Elementary, helps with the school’s weekly backpack distribution!

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

More than half the students at W. Reily Brown Elementary School get a backpack full of weekend meals to take home with them each Friday.

Dr. Wendy Whitehurst, the school’s assistant principal, said the school on Dover’s south side, has been participating in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program since 2010.

The food, she said, really makes a difference in the students’ lives.

“We realized that 77 percent of the 409 students live in poverty,” she said, so parents are offered an opportunity to enroll their children into the program.

Here’s how it works: At-risk children are identified by school personnel, and 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.

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

At first, Reily Brown’s school administrators were a bit concerned that those students receiving the bag of food might be stigmatized.

Actually, it’s been the opposite: everyone wants to be a Backpack Buddy.

Each school in the program handles the distribution a bit differently, based on staffing and volunteers. Food Bank of Delaware trucks deliver the backpacks to each school every week. At Reily Brown, custodians place boxes next to the classroom door; the teachers indicate the amount by a sticky note placed outside the door.

“It’s really helped many of our students,” said Dr. Whitehurst.

“We have heard teachers say that it’s a blessing. It’s a necessity. We’re a 100 percent Title 1 program. If the parents feel they need it. We make sure they get it,” she added.

In addition, the school takes advantage of the Food Bank’s After-School Nutrition Program. Dr. Whitehurst said each Tuesday and Thursday students participate in a phonics/ reading program.

“They get a snack and a drink, and then they go to their lesson,” she said.

“They really look forward to it, and it’s appreciated.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, visit http://www.fbd.org/program/children%E2%80%99s-nutrition-program/backpack-program/.

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Kickin’ it with Calcium at Bancroft Elementary

Who doesn’t want strong bones and muscles? Fourth graders at Bancroft Elementary were certainly excited about the prospect of having strong bones and muscles from consuming more calcium! A group of 12 students participated in Community Nutrition Educator Alyssa Atanacio’s series of Kickin’ it with Calcium classes last month.

The three-part interactive class focuses on nutrition education activities and a physical activity demonstration to encourage children to increase their consumption of calcium and exercise.

Alyssa, one of our registered dieticians, started the class with a refresher from the last two classes. She asked the students a series of questions about the importance of calcium. For each question correct, the students received a milk mustache sticker. The student with the most mustache stickers by the end of the class got to pick the first prize at the end of class! Alyssa’s group remembered quite a bit about calcium from their last two sessions.

The first class in the series of three focuses on the role of calcium in the body, dairy and non-dairy sources of calcium, such as spinach, broccoli and almonds, the amount of dairy kids need, the role of Vitamin D and the importance of cardiovascular exercise. Special activities for session one include Simon Says using cardio exercises and a C is for Calcium worksheet where children identify foods containing calcium. Session two includes a review and the importance of strength exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups and more!

Each class concludes with a special calcium-rich treat such as mozzarella cheese sticks, yogurt/yogurt parfaits or chocolate tofu mouse.

Session three’s special snack at Bancroft was a fruit smoothie served in a special Kickin’ it with Calcium cup, which they got to keep!

But before the kids got their special treat, they must be engaged throughout the session. To show the importance of flexibility, Alyssa led the students through a quick stretching and yoga routine. The kids were excited to show off their best tree and warrior poses!

At the end of the class, Alyssa poured the smoothies for each student. At first a few were apprehensive to taste their strawberry yogurt smoothie as first.

“This tastes sour,” said one student.

“I don’t think I’ll like it,” said another.

“You’ll like it,” Alyssa said encouragingly.

After some apprehension, slurping sounds started to fill the room; within minutes the cups were dry, and students were asking for seconds! One student even described the smoothie as “heavenly!”

To learn more about children’s nutrition education programs at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit http://www.fbd.org/program/snap-education.

Check out some more pictures from Kickin’ it with Calcium at Bancroft!

 

 

 

 

 

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Entries for Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge due April 3

The Food Bank of Delaware and Brae’s Brown Bags’ are encouraging Delaware students to use their creativity to help spark community change. Entries for the first-ever Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge are due April 3.

Delaware students in grades 1-12 are able to submit posters, YouTube videos (students over the age of 13) and essays (5th-12th graders) focusing on food insecurity, food recovery/food waste and healthy eating.

Finalists’ entries will be on display at the Coming Together conference, Delaware’s first anti-hunger conference for both adults and children, on Monday, May 4.

Prizes will be given to the top three selections in each design theme category and in each age group. Age groups will be divided into elementary (1-4), middle school (5-8) and high school (9-12 grades). Each finalist will be awarded a prize, certificate and the honor of their entry being displayed at a statewide conference.

“I think want I want most out of the conference and this design challenge is for kids to think about what it really means to be hungry,” said 11-year-old Braeden Mannering, founder of Brae’s Brown Bags. “I want them to imagine how it feels and how we can fix it if we all work together. For me it is to help all people have a chance to eat healthy. I want kids to know they don’t need a cape to be a super hero. Sometimes you just need the right pen or colored pencil or just the right creative idea. I want to see the kids in Delaware, all ages, join forces to fight hunger.”

Mannering, along with a panel of community members, will be judging the entries based on originality, artistic merit and expression of the theme. Only one entry per student and each entry must be the work of only one student. Artist signatures or initials are only allowed on the back of the poster. Each entry must be accompanied by a signed release form.

“We are so thrilled to be partnering with Braeden. Braeden shows that regardless of age, we can all make a difference. We are hoping that other students will follow Braeden’s lead and work to make impactful change in our community.”

Complete rules for the Coming Together Multimedia Challenge can be found at http://www.fbd.org/comingtogethercontest/. Tickets for the May 4 conference are on sale. Adult tickets are $40 until April 17; tickets increase to $50 after the 17th. For more information about the conference, visit www.fbd.org/comingtogether.

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