Category Archives: Hunger-Relief Partners

Food Bank of Delaware Helps Feed More Community Members in Need Thanks to $23,500 Grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation

Ed Maynard (left) of Cedars Church of Christ poses with a BJ's Wholesale Club employee at the Newark store. Cedars picks up from BJ's stores on a weekly basis and will benefit from BJ's generous donation.

Ed Maynard (right) of Cedars Church of Christ poses with a BJ’s Wholesale Club employee at the Newark store. Cedars picks up from BJ’s stores on a weekly basis and will benefit from BJ’s generous donation.

The Food Bank of Delaware has been awarded a $23,500 grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation to support agency capacity building and provide more meals for the more than 122,000 food insecure Delawareans.

After helping to expand capacity in 2014 for more than 400 feeding pantries and programs that resulted in over 10 million more pounds of food being donated, BJ’s Charitable Foundation will invest additional funding this year to further prevent a bottleneck in the supply chain for food distribution to Americans facing hunger.

This will be the second agency capacity building grant awarded to the Food Bank of Delaware, which works with local agencies (food pantries, shelters and meal programs) that help distribute groceries and meals to residents who struggle with hunger.

Those same local hunger agencies, however, are often limited by a lack of equipment to move donations and provide safe storage for perishable items. Many agencies also encounter limited staff availability and training to support more high-functioning operations. The BJ’s Charitable Foundation grant will help those local agencies safely pick up more donated product from local supporters and distribute more perishable foods to community members in need – a crucial component in the fight to solve hunger.

DSC_0632web“We collaborate with our partner agencies to get food to our neighbors in need on a daily basis; they’re often the final stage within our network to reach individuals who struggle with hunger,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO. “With this grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation, we are able to continue to address what we can do to help enable these organizations to be more efficient and effective, and in turn help more people facing hunger.”

BJ’s Wholesale Clubs has supported the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks since 2011. Each of their 208 clubs has contributed perishable food totaling nearly 35 million pounds, which is the equivalent of 28 million meals.

DSC_0638web“At BJ’s, we’re always looking for new ways to partner with food banks and local organizations to help solve hunger in our communities,” said Jeff Fireman, Assistant Vice President of Regional Operations at BJ’s Wholesale Club. “Through this grant, equipment from refrigerated vehicles to coolers as well as food safety training and other costs related to agency success will result in more nutritious food getting to the people who need it most.”

BJ’s Wholesale Club distributed grants to 20 additional Feeding America® food banks to enhance these organizations’ agency capacity building. Each agency capacity grant provided by BJ’s Charitable Foundation was supplied in September, in honor of Hunger Action MonthTM. Throughout Hunger Action Month, the Food Bank of Delaware and the Feeding America nation-wide network of food banks have rallied the country to engage in the fight to end hunger in America.

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Mobile pantries offer food, education to community-based sites

Fresh and Crystal at MP

Fresh (our Mobile Pantry Driver) and Crystal (our SNAP Outreach Coordinator) work at the Casa San Francisco mobile pantry

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Sussex County residents who took part in the Food Bank’s Kraft Mobile Pantry held at Casa San Francisco left with big smiles and plenty of food for their pantries and freezers.

And they were very, very grateful!

Casa San Francisco in the heart of Milton is a 12-bed homeless shelter operated by Catholic Charities.

Those who received the boxes of shelf-stable food were recruited for the program by Desiree Downes, HOPE program coordinator for Casa San Francisco. HOPE is an acronym for Helping Ordinary People Endure.

Through the mobile pantry program, typically 35-40 households access the pantry and are able to select foods best suited for their family’s needs and preferences.

During the recent Casa mobile pantry, 25 people signed up for the event.

In addition, an education session is held prior to the distribution. The class focuses on a variety of topics including nutrition, financial literacy, healthcare and more. A health educator from Beebe Medical Center provided a class on preventive healthcare to the Casa San Francisco group.

At this pantry, in addition to 35 pounds of pre-packed food, each participant received fresh corn on the cob, bread, frozen chicken, cranberry sauce and bread. The carts were full, and volunteers assisted in loading food into waiting cars.

One Frankford resident, a 72-year-old woman, was delighted to have plenty of food.

“This is really nice. I’m on a fixed income, and this means a whole lot,” she said, adding that she planned to prepare some of it, including the corn for dinner.

Another woman, a 71-year-old Millsboro resident, was equally pleased.

“It’s just wonderful. It helps so much. I wouldn’t be eating well without this. I really enjoy the fresh produce and a good selection,” she said.

Community partners are currently needed to host the pantry distribution and lead educational sessions. For more information, please contact Melissa Holochwost, Mobile Pantry Coordinator, at (302) 444-8129 or

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Partner Spotlight: Calvary Assembly of God

By Kim Turner, Lynda Pusey and Chris Willis

Last month we visited Calvary Assembly of God two times to see firsthand the impact the church is making on the Dover community. Under the leadership of Margaret Young, a dedicated group of volunteers ensure that the church’s monthly mobile pantries and senior meal box distributions run smoothly.

On our first visit to the church, families were patiently waiting in the vestibule of the church to participate in the Food Bank of Delaware-sponsored mobile pantry program at the church. Prior to visiting the-always-entertaining Frank “Fresh” Coverdale, our Mobile Pantry Driver, and the mobile pantry truck, families participated in a 30-minute financial literacy class sponsored by a local organization.

Mobile pantry participants are of varied backgrounds. However, their appreciation for Margaret, her team of volunteers and the Food Bank of Delaware is a common thread.

On our visit, we met many individuals who were thankful for the service. Here are some of their stories:

Tiya from Dover told Lynda how hard it is “getting by and trying to make it day by day.” She is recovering from a foot surgery and is only working part-time. She said she has to use the mobile pantry at Calvary about every four months and is so happy it’s there when she needs it.

A.C. from Frederika is in his 60s and is disabled. He had a head injury when is was in his late 20s and lately he has been having issues from the injury. He sometimes has to choose between paying for medicine and buying food. A friend encouraged him to visit the church to apply for help. When asked what he thought of the program he replied, “I’m glad they have programs like this that allow people to take the burden off their shoulders, because that’s a heavy weight when you have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from.”

Lois from Dover is in her 80s and retired from nursing. She remains very involved in her community and also volunteers at Calvary’s emergency food pantry twice a week. She had been struggling to pay for her medicines and still be able to afford food when a friend referred her to Calvary. She was subsisting on $15 a month in SNAP benefits for food and said she would buy peanut butter and crackers or get a bag of navy beans and make enough soup to last for a few weeks. For the past two years she has been able to eat a healthier diet thanks to the senior meal boxes and mobile pantries at the church. “The programs at Calvary have been a blessing. I don’t know what I would do without them. I try to help other seniors to get plugged in to programs to help. My whole mission in life was to help people, and I was very embarrassed that I needed help.” She feels better about receiving help when she is also able to help others in return.

Janet is from Dover and has been retired from the post office since 2008. She lives with a roommate who learned about the services at Calvary through a fellow veteran. When Janet saw that her roommate was able to receive help and also volunteer her time on other days she agreed to check into the services at Calvary. She said she had been able to keep up with her bills, medicines and grocery bills until recently when she had to start caring for two grandchildren. She is very happy with how much help she has been able to receive and also that she is able to volunteer twice a week at the emergency food pantry. “Margaret at Calvary is wonderful. She turns no one away.”

Gale from Dover lives with her husband. Both of them are unemployed. Her husband had a job until he was struck by a car and became unable to work. They are receiving SNAP benefits, but the monthly amount was recently cut by half, and they have been having problems getting enough food to eat. They have visited the food pantry in the past but were at the mobile pantry for the first time. They have had to choose many times between buying food and paying for medicine and utilities. Gale said she was very thankful for the people at Calvary and the Food Bank of Delaware and the programs provided to help people like her be able to make it through to the end of the month.

Thank you, Calvary Assembly of God, for being a critical partner in our fight against hunger in the First State!

Calvary MP


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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

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


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


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Retiree finds rewards in helping the hungry

1112_LF Food Pantry 02By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

For decades, Anne Paladino has been helping feed hungry people in and around Harrington.

For many people, this octogenarian is the face of the Lake Forest Church Association Food Pantry located in a city-owned building on Dorman Street.

But she is unassuming, modest and reluctant to take credit for her ongoing and continuing commitment to the non-profit agency.

The Lake Forest Church Association Food Pantry is part of a network of 550 hunger-relief partners that aid the Food Bank of Delaware in distributing food to needy families.

Anne, now retired, first lent a hand to this pantry as a representative of her church, St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Harrington.

She is now the pantry coordinator, a position in which she is able to use her well-honed administrative skills.

As coordinator, she volunteers to help “shop” at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford warehouse, to schedule the 60 volunteers, to pay the bills and to take care of the multitude of challenges that face a non-profit agency.

Some of these tasks, she says, she is able to do at home, telecommuting from her home phone and laptop computer.

“I work on this every day. I can interview and qualify clients on the phone. I give them an appointment the same day if they need the food,” she said.

Over the years, the demand for services has grown.

“When I first started, we served six to 12 families a month,” Anne said.

In the past year, the pantry serves about 200 families each month, and 225 in October 2014. It’s open from 9 a.m. until noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

About 60 volunteers keep the agency functioning efficiently, and each time the pantry is open the volunteers serve 30-35 families.

“We pack individually for each family. Some pantries do generic boxes, but we consider the families, and we give more than most,” she said.

“We have volunteers here every day.  I have never met such giving, wonderful people as the people who volunteer here.”

While some families need the food pantry’s services on a regular basis, Anne says she sees more new people every day.

“There are people who have never been here before. We have a lot of people who are working part-time hours. We’re located near three senior and low-income housing communities,” she said. “We try to serve just the Lake Forest School District, but we rarely turn anyone away.”

This retiree finds her volunteer hours are quite rewarding.

“The reward is doing something for someone who can’t help themselves. I can be involved. I don’t want to be an 80-year-old lady sitting in front of the TV. I don’t go to bingo. I don’t go to bars. I don’t bowl. This is what I do,” she said.

For more information about becoming a Food Bank of Delaware Hunger-Relief partner, visit

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