Category Archives: FBD Staff

A look back on my summer internship

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern

As school approaches for me, I would like to say a few words on my time as an intern here at the Food Bank of Delaware. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to return to a place that is close in my heart. The Food Bank has always been a place of positivity for me ever since I began my first day volunteering many years ago. From that day I’ve gone on to make great friends, win an award and share the importance of volunteering.

This summer I was able to serve as a Communications Intern under Kim Turner, the Communications Director. She showed me the daily procedures of her position and helped me develop and polish good communication skills. We also went on trips to different places like Calvary Church in Dover and New Knollwood in Claymont. I was able to take pictures and talk to the different people about their relation with the Food Bank.

Once in the office I wrote four blogs – two about volunteers and two about culinary students. I have interviewed people before but did not actually write the final story. This was new for me, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun to get to know people and share their stories. I also practiced writing press releases, doing clerical tasks, creating content for Twitter and other things.

The experience this summer was very fun for me. I was able to learn from a great teacher, and she pushed to be independent with my work. I’m happy that it was everything I expected and more. I thank everyone I crossed paths with during the summer for making it the great time it was. To anyone that is looking to volunteer or intern during the summer, the Food Bank of Delaware is always a top choice.

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Annual dinner showcases culinary students, thanks top supporters and friends

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It goes without saying that the Food Bank of Delaware’s Annual Dinner is regarded as a special evening. The event is our opportunity to honor and thank those who support our mission.

Thursday evening’s banquet at our Milford site exceeded any expectations. Tim Hunter, chef instructor, and his nine Culinary School students prepared and served a gourmet meal for our staff and guests. They who also had an opportunity to savor craft beers donated and served by our neighbors, Mispillion River Brewing. The menu, served at buffet stations, was paired with local beers.

Patricia Beebe, our President and CEO, lauded our top honorees of the year. They are: James Buford and Rich Simpson, Volunteers of the Year; The Harry K Foundation, Donor of the Year; Michael Haritos, Supporter of the Year; State Sen. Bryan Townsend, Legislator of the Year, Sussex Community Corrections Center, Partner of the Year.

We are extremely grateful for the time and talent they contribute to the Food Bank of Delaware, and over the next week, we will feature each honoree in a separate blog. Stay tuned!

During the week prior to the dinner, staff members received an email from Pat: tie dye shirts were mandatory for the occasion. Those of us who’ve been here for awhile know that’s code for “auspicious occasion.”

To set the tone for the evening, Pat took an opportunity before dinner to recognize all 60 members of the Food Bank’s staff, calling them by department up to the podium, to thank us for the hard work we’re doing and for our dedication to the people we serve.

After dinner, the evening got a bit emotional as Pat put aside her notes to praise the partnership between the Sussex Community Corrections’ Sussex Work Release Center, noting that the nine Culinary School students who prepared our dinner were associated with the center in Georgetown.

Guests could see that the students were proud of their accomplishments, that they respected Chef Hunter and “Miss Pat,” that the Culinary School made a big difference in their lives, that they were looking forward to internships, to the May 8 graduation ceremonies, and to meaningful employment opportunities.

The details of that story, and more, are left for another day.

For more information on how to volunteer and support the Food Bank of Delaware, visit

Check out photos from last night’s dinner!

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Filed under Events, FBD Staff, Programs, Supporters, The Culinary School, Volunteer, Workforce Development

Newest staff member renews Food Bank connections

???????????????????????????????By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Ellen Roland is the new Culinary School program manager for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch. Although she’s new to the position, she is not unfamiliar with the Food Bank. She brings a wealth of experience, including one that’s unique: she is a graduate of the program as well.

“I think I have a different perspective. Because I was a student, I have the best of both worlds,” she said.

And Chad Robinson, Milford’s branch director, agrees.

“We are happy to have Ellen join our team at the Food Bank of Delaware.  As a former student, we know Ellen will bring unique insight into helping us grow our program,” he said.

The Culinary School is a 14-week program for adults. It is also a certified trade school by the Delaware Department of Education.

Ellen, a New York native, moved to Milford about 18 months ago when her husband’s job transferred him to the area. Her background is in the retail world, managing and opening up new stores.

She’s the youngest of 12 children, and when her mother became ill, she put her retail career on hold to become a caretaker.

When it was time to re-enter the working world six years later, Ellen took a second look at her skills and thought about opening a catering business, specifically one geared toward weddings.

Prompted by a notice in the newspaper, she enrolled in The Culinary School and graduated with Milford’s second class.

“I’ve always loved to cook, and I’ve always been around food,” she said, adding that her mother regularly made home-made pastas and bread.

“I was brought up old school.”

Ellen said her experience at The Culinary School provided valuable education, complementing what she already learned in the retail world, even though she didn’t go to work in a restaurant after her graduation.

She said that Chef Instructor Tim Hunter encouraged her to seek opportunities in “the front of house,” the food service term for the dining room, as opposed to the kitchen.

So when she learned about the opening for a program manager here, she applied.

Still new to the job, Ellen says she is enjoying not only the challenges of learning her new responsibilities, but also helping students become successful.

The students in the current class will graduate on Friday, May 8, so they are moving into their two-week internships very soon.

“It’s so great to be able to help people, so gratifying,” she said.

In addition, Ellen is now working to populate the next class of students by scheduling interviews with possible recruits.

“I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Food Bank team,” she said.

For more information on The Culinary School, visit

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My Summer at the Food Bank of Delaware

By Gabrielle Gilliam-Harris, Service Learning Scholar

You know the feeling you have as a freshman in college on your first day of classes? You leave for your first class and you find yourself desperately trying to recall everything from your campus tour. Thank goodness for your amazing RA who sees you struggling and comes to bring you a map and help you navigate this new experience. On my first day interning at the Food Bank of Delaware I learned that feeling was not an isolated incident, but something I was currently revisiting, and would be faced with many times in life. Thank goodness for my supervisor, Matt Talley (Talley) providing such awesome guidance and support.

My name is Gabrielle Gilliam-Harris and this summer I was a Service-Learning Scholar at the Food Bank of Delaware. My task this summer was to create a SNAP Helpline for the SNAP Outreach Program. I expected to come in and essentially be told what to do, but that is not what happened. Talley simply sat down with me and we talked about why the helpline was so important and specific goals that he needed the helpline to accomplish. I was treated like a team member rather than an assistant, which I really appreciated. Talley gave me a lot of creative freedom, which scared me at first. However, I see now, it was a mix of that very freedom and the events that we went to that taught me the richest lessons this summer.

Going to outreach events at several locations showed me the variety of services and outreach approaches that exist. No two experiences were the same, and we had to adapt and determine the best style of outreach for each one. In addition, interacting with people and watching the way Talley interacted with people taught me a lot about the nature of outreach and food insecurity as well. Listening to each person’s personal situation and talking to Talley about his experiences taught me what kinds of questions we might encounter on the helpline. These experiences, along with Talley’s guidance gave me the tools I needed to create a SNAP Helpline that would best cater to the callers. I learned the best way to help people is to truly understand where they are coming from and what they want to get out of the helpline.

Having more control over the project gave me the opportunities to learn what worked and what did not. This enabled me to learn a lot more from my experience than if I had simply been given orders. In addition, it built my problem solving skills and gave me confidence in my own abilities to tackle other projects in the future. My experience at the Food Bank of Delaware not only enhanced my life as a student, but as a professional and as a part of my community. I have already seen myself applying my new knowledge and skills to other parts of my life and I cannot wait to use the lessons I learned in class this coming semester.

I’d like to thank Talley and the rest of the staff at the Food Bank of Delaware for continuously supporting me this summer! Thank you for an amazing experience!

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Legislative Day in Dover

DSC_0060compressedBy Dan Reyes, Coalition to End Hunger Coordinator

Every year around the start of summer, those wandering the corridors of Legislative Hall are greeted by a veritable sea of tie-dye—it’s hard to miss the Food Bank of Delaware’s Legislative Day. Staff and supporters travel to Dover to educate elected officials about the hunger crisis in our state and what FBD is doing to help, and in turn, the legislature is kind enough to pass a resolution commending our work.

In years past there has been a conspicuous absence at legislative day—those who rely upon the Food Bank of Delaware and its partners for emergency food assistance. Neighbors struggling with poverty and food insecurity are all too often left out of debates and conversations over the policies that directly impact them. The inclusion of this perspective is critical to ensuring that elected officials are working in the best interest of the constituents that they serve.

This year, when given the floor in the State Senate, our President & CEO Patricia Beebe gave only a few brief remarks, before turning the podium over to Edward Hawkins, a Dover Resident and a client of the Food Bank of Delaware. Edward, a Vietnam-era veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, was widowed after the passing of his wife last August. The loss of his wife was not only emotionally taxing, but also impacted his financial stability. The SNAP cuts of 2013 proved devastating, as he described to legislators:

“Prior to those cuts my food stores ran out approximately four days before the next month’s allotment. Now it has increased to two weeks. During that period, I got the chance to experience ‘true hunger’, which caused a weight loss of 20 pounds.”

Edward found relief through FBD’s mobile pantry program, where he filled out a “story card” expressing his interest in advocacy efforts. Not long after he began working with me to prepare for Legislative Day, culminating in his eloquent and impactful remarks on June 3rd. After speaking, Edward shared, “That was tough…it’s hard to get up in front of people I don’t know and feel so exposed. I don’t like feeling pitied…but I know this is important. I hope that by doing this, it will make it possible for other people in my situation to do the same.”

For both FBD and Edward, this is only the beginning. We are in the process of developing a “Witnesses to Hunger” program, an expansion of a project of Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities that seeks to engage caregivers of low-income households in participant-led advocacy efforts. Ensuring our clients can advocate for policies that will allow for greater opportunity and self-reliance is just as important to us as providing emergency food assistance.

Peace, Love, End Hunger.


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Filed under Advocate, Events, Face of Hunger, FBD Staff, Hunger

My Internship Experience

By Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern

My experience here at the Food Bank of Delaware as an intern in the Newark location for the spring 2014 semester has been a wonderful and enlightening experience. It has really been a time of learning for me. Before becoming an intern, I was not familiar with the organization and the numerous programs that they have. The number of people who benefit from the Food Bank’s daily operations is astounding, and the work that they do for the Delaware community is much needed.

I did not realize how prevalent the issue of hunger is here in the state of Delaware and how many people are participants in each program. These include the Children’s Nutrition Programs (After-School Nutrition Program, Backpack Program, Summer Food Service Program), The Culinary School, the Supplemental Nutrition Education Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed), Kid C.H.E.F, Senior Nutrition, Mobile Pantry, SNAP Outreach, School Pantries and the Community Supported Agriculture Program. From young children to the elderly, the Food Bank of Delaware ensures that all Delaware residents in need of assistance are helped.

I also did not realize how much the Food Bank of Delaware relied on volunteers to help with its daily operations. Volunteers do countless duties including helping with mailings, assembling meal boxes for the seniors and bags full of food for the children participating in the Backpack Program. The Food Bank of Delaware constantly is bustling with volunteer activity. Different organizations including schools, churches, local companies and corporations send their members every week to help with these duties and help sort the daily food donations that come into the Food Bank.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience and had a great time interacting with fellow volunteers and staff members at the Food Bank of Delaware!

Thank you, Natosha, for your work this semester! Everyone at the Food Bank of Delaware will miss you!

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The other ride

By Nicole Wilson, Chef Instructor

As I came into the warehouse on a crisp October morning at 7:30 a.m., drinking my cup of coffee, I looked for John Sease, one of our drivers, to take me out on his truck that day.  I had been curious to see firsthand what it is like for the Food Bank drivers working their daily routines and the impact they have on our organization and community.

John greeted me as he was loading up his Chase “Driving Out Hunger” truck.  He was busily moving inventory onto the truck, and the main item today was tomatoes.  Other Food Bank warehouse employees and drivers were quickly moving pallets of food, strategizing their plan of attack for the day’s deliveries.

As I jumped into the truck, I was both eager and nervous.  Prior to our trip together, I had not had much conversation with John due to our different schedules.  John tells me about the route and the partner organizations we’d be visiting.   I can already see how passionate he is about his job.

A few people, including John, were surprised I wanted to go with him that day, but I wanted to know the ins and outs of the Food Bank so that I can better advocate for our organization, partners and the people that we touch.  John has been with the Food Bank for six years and started in the warehouse and has since become a leader at the Food Bank.  He is well liked amongst his peers, and partnering organizations love him.

As we are driving, I ask John how he knows what order goes to which agency

“The donations that come in from the local grocers and farmers get dispersed amongst the partners,” he says.

There’s an order sheet that gets printed out with the food on it, and John knows by heart what the partner receives from the Food Bank.  I learned that Mondays and Wednesdays are good days to go out and see where delivers most of the food.

First on our list was Child Inc.  It’s located within a development that has many children. When we pulled up, children were catching the school bus.  John unloads plenty of boxes of tomatoes, and they are stacked high in the organization’s driveway.

Our next stop is Pantry of Hope.  John backs his truck up to their loading dock and greets Mr. Leroy as he pulls up in his van to receive our order.  John talks to him for a couple minutes. Mr. Leroy was happy to see John.  I inquired about the number of people served at this particular location.  He said several hundred people use this site to receive their food.  Pantry of Hope shops weekly at the Food Bank, and we also deliver assorted goods once a week.

Donny helps us unload and as soon as it’s off the truck he begins to separate the order in order put it away.  Pantry of Hope stays busy working to meet the needs of the community

We quickly move on to the next stop.  On the way John gets a phone call from one of our partners inquiring about their food order.  John informs the individual that we will be there shortly.

The next delivery is for Neighborhood House.  The receptionist, Ms. Rochelle, greets John very quickly as she is multitasking between the phone and receiving our order.  Mr. Henry, a Neighborhood House retiree, jumps in to help us unload flats of tomatoes from the pallet.  Together we unload 30 boxes of tomatoes, and John and Mr. Henry talk like they have been friends for years!   John goes in for a signature and wishes the receptionist happy birthday.  She is flattered and tells him to have a good day!

As John expertly drives his truck down this narrow street near Life St. Stephen’s Food Closet we see at least 15 people waiting for our drop off.  They look cold and no smiles on their faces.  You can feel the down trodden vibe amongst the group.  Two guys help John.  One gentleman pulls me to the side and tells me how much John is a blessing to them.  They say he’s a good man and praise him.  I can feel the love they have for him and the Food Bank as I wish them well.  Many people in the community depend on John and the Food Bank!

As John rides through Wilmington, he begins telling me about Daryl Graham from JPMorgan Chase.  Many years ago, John drove a truck without air conditioning. The summers were brutal! Daryl talked to John and promised him a truck with air conditioning.  Daryl made it happen for the Food Bank and now John delivers in an air conditioned truck!

The next stop is the Delawarr State Service Center.  Miss Saunders is waiting patiently with a warm smile on her face and greets John with a nice welcome.  We unloaded 30 cases for the center  and then said our goodbyes and it’s on the road again.

Next, we stop at Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School and then it’s off to B.J.’s in Newark for a pick up.

We pull up to the loading dock, and Betty greets us with a smile and a hello.  She talks with John and explains the pick-up as we go to the freezer to get the inventory.  They had a half of a pallet today for the Food Bank.

We head back to the Food Bank and I am told that I would not be allowed to go to the Port of Wilmington due to safety issues.  So I decide to go with Erik Klair and Brian Henderson for a pickup at the S.I.W. Farm for the CSA program.

We ride out to the farm and meet the farmer, H.G. Haskell. The farm is very authentic and beautiful.  The farm has horses, dogs and even a mole that kept us company. H.G. wasted no time packing up the vans and then we were on our way back to the Food Bank with a load of fresh tomatoes and cabbage.

I learned a great deal about the Food Bank while I was on the road. It showed me that one person can make a difference! Whether it’s being a delivery driver, a chef instructor, a warehouse worker, an administrative assistant, a registered dietician, a CEO, an intern, a volunteer, a programs director, a programs manager, a volunteer coordinator, etc., each one of us at the Food Bank plays an important role!

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to bond with another Food Bank employee, even if it was just for a couple of hours, and embrace the impact that his daily routine has on the surrounding community.  I am honored to be a part of the team at the Food Bank and to know the great people that represent this cause to end hunger!

Check out some photos from my trip!

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Filed under FBD Staff, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs, Supporters, Warehouse