Category Archives: Programs

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 mholochwost@fbd.org.

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Filed under Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs

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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Filed under Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs

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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Program Spotlight: Smart Choices for WIC

Laura at WIC demoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

How do you get kids to eat spinach? That’s a challenge that Laura McAllister seems to have conquered, not through disguise, but by employing subtle inclusion.

Laura is a one of the Food of Delaware’s WIC food demonstration specialists. On Friday, she set up a portable cooking station inside the Shipley State Service Center in Seaford.

As part of the Smart Choices for WIC program, Laura’s job is to show mothers who receive WIC benefits how to prepare healthy and inviting dishes based on items they can purchase using their vouchers.

So she made something that most children enjoy: pizza. The recipe, Mini Tortilla Pizza, includes spinach as one of toppings along with the traditional tomato sauce and cheese.

Diamonte Wise, 4, Millsboro, loved it, spinach and all, much to the delight of his parents.

“I am surprised he’s eating it because he doesn’t like green,” said Dorian Williams, Diamonte’s dad.

His parents, including his mom Melissa, were enthusiastic about taking home the recipe, and she said she look forward to preparing it at home.

In Delaware, one in five children lives in poverty; and many are served by the WIC program.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, WIC is a “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”

The WIC food list includes fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, bread, dried beans, and some cereals, and although the foods are healthy, some young parents may be challenged to make them appealing and appetizing to young children.

So Laura, and Amanda, her New Castle County counterpart, create recipes, demonstrate the preparation and offer samples to WIC recipients. In addition to Seaford, Laura also visits service centers in Frankford, Georgetown, Milford and Dover each month.

For more information about the Smart Choices for WIC program or any other programs sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.

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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 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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Culinary Student Alumni Spotlight: Rory Price

Rory at Desserts By DanaThe Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware has been credited for impacting many lives, especially Rory Price’s. Rory graduated with class 37 in September 2014. Since graduation, he has been flourishing as an employee at Desserts By Dana in Newark.

Rory is perfecting his baking craft by doing a little bit of everything. From creating weekly baking lists to deliveries and making butter cream frosting, mini desserts and cupcakes, Rory is doing a lot  working alongside Chef Dana Hubert, owner of Desserts by Dana and winner of TLC’s Next Great Baker.

“A lot of people look at him as a celebrity,” explains Rory. “I look at him as a teacher. He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t come off as being arrogant. He is not a drill sergeant and is real down to earth. He takes the time to teach you and to make sure you get it right. He teaches everyone.”

In addition to the on-the-job training from Chef Dana, Rory also credits the instruction he received from The Culinary School to his success.

“The program opened my eyes to an area of life that I knew existed, but didn’t think I could be a part of,” he points out.

“I don’t think about it while I am here. Sometimes I get home and I say ‘I work at Desserts by Dana.’ It takes my breath away. I feel real proud of myself and how far I have gotten so far.”

Rory’s previous experience includes a six-year stint as a McDonald’s manager.

With wedding season in full swing, Rory is working six days a week. When he leaves the bakery, he unplugs and brainstorms recipes, but admits he doesn’t cook for himself.

Some of his favorite desserts to prepare (and eat!) are peanut butter cheesecake, peanut butter and jelly cupcakes and maple bacon cupcakes.

Looking ahead to the future, in five years, Rory envisions himself owning an Eagles-themed sports bar and also running a couple of other businesses.

He still keeps in touch with former classmates and hopes to enlist their help one day.

For students beginning their culinary journey, Rory advises, “Don’t limit yourself in the class. Don’t take it as just a class that is a 14-week excuse to do something else or be somewhere else.”

And for those considering the program, “I would definitely encourage them to find out information as to why why they would or would not,” he says. “If it’s not a program for them, I would advise someone not to do it, because they are taking up a spot for someone who does want to. If it’s something they are interested in doing and jumping two feet in, then take advantage of everything the program has to offer. I say go for it. It has changed my life 100 percent.”

When asked where he would be if he hadn’t enrolled in The Culinary School, “I would be working but I don’t think it would be in the capacity I am working and definitely not as rewarding.”

Are you ready to make a career change? Applications are accepted throughout the year for our culinary training program in both Newark and Milford. Are you food service employer who wants to make a difference? We are in need of internship sites and employers! To learn more, visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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Filed under Programs, The Culinary School, Workforce Development