Category Archives: Programs

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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Stretching SNAP budgets at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market

0805_lewes-photoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator 

SNAP recipients have an opportunity to make their shopping dollars go farther at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market.

SNAP is the program formerly called food stamps, so people using an EBT card can have access to more fresh produce, dairy, baked goods, and meat sold at that market through an agreement promoted by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Here’s how it works: Anyone with an EBT card can go to the SNAP Information Table set up at the market each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon through Nov. 21. The Market will match, dollar for dollar, purchases made at the market with bonus bucks’ tokens.

Those tokens, up to $20 per person per visit, can be used to buy SNAP-eligible food at the Market; they do not expire.

Mary Conte, the Market’s SNAP coordinator, partnered with Crystal Ruiz, a SNAP Outreach Coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware, to develop the Bonus Bucks concept in order to allow more people access to fresh foods.

“We wanted to team up with a market,” said Crystal, who noted that grant funding will pay for a Wi-Fi connection so people can even sign up for SNAP benefits at the market.

Mary admits that the program has not been as well received as she envisioned, and she has volunteered her time and effort to promote it.

“I put myself out there to spread the word, to make connections to increase our SNAP customer base. I’m reaching out to other organizations,” she said.

In the summer, the market is set up under spreading old trees on the grounds of the Lewes Historical Society, but after Oct. 3, until the end of the season, it’s held at Shields Elementary School on Savannah Road.

“It’s interesting. We actually have done better with the program in the fall, and I am not sure why,” Mary added.

The Historical Lewes Farmers Market has been recognized locally and nationally; it is a producer-only market, and the vendors are committed to encouraging SNAP participation.

For more information on the market, visit www.historiclewesfarmersmarket.org or email historiclewesfarmersmarket@comcast.net or call 302-644-1436. For more information on the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org

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Partner Spotlight: Burton Village

IMG_1300web

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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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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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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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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