Category Archives: Programs

Senior Recipe Club classes offer new ways to prepare food

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Some common perceptions may not be a reality, such as senior citizens know how to prepare healthy, nutritious and economical meals.

Sure, they may have prepared meals for their families, but living with a downsized household and a limited income can create frustrating challenges.

The Food Bank of Delaware launched a Recipe Club, sponsored by the Palmer Home Foundation, to meet the needs of Kent County seniors who want to prepare and enjoy healthy and appealing meals.

In Milford, Asia Thurston, one of our community nutrition educators, offered an entertaining, engaging and educational hour-long class for the half dozen seniors gathered around the conference room table.

This class was the first in a series of four hands-on, nutrition classes hosted by the SNAP-Education department; classes are designed to help participants make healthy food choices on a limited budget.

Since most people use a recipe to prepare, Asia started with the basics: what is a recipe? This class is not just about telling; it’s also about doing with students participating in informal quizzes.

The recipe for the day was individual pizzas cooked in an electric skillet. Asia handed out a whole-grain sandwich round, then students passed around the tomato sauce for the next layer. They were offered a variety of toppings, including turkey pepperoni, green pepper, and pineapple, in addition to the cheese.

The students laughed and joked and exchanged pleasantries while the pizzas cooked. Of course, they enjoyed eating their fresh and healthy pizzas toward the end of class.

As they departed for the day, each student received a box of food that includes fresh produce and bread, in addition to shelf-stable menu items.

Students will complete the four-week program on Feb. 26. In addition to learning food safety and some new recipes, each student goes home with a recipe book and Mobile Pantry food box of non-perishable food.

In addition to the Recipe Club, the Food of Bank of Delaware will also host a two-part free senior cooking class in March at the Food Bank’s Milford site. Chef Tim Hunter will lead the class, and participants will learn to make easy-to-prepare recipes using common, everyday items.

The hour-long classes are at 3 p.m. March 19 and 26. There are still openings for Kent County seniors over age 60. Students must commit to both days.

For more information or to sign up for these senior programs, call Missy Holochwost at (302) 444-8129 or email


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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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Filed under Children's Nutrition, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Poverty, Programs

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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Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Philip C. Showell Elementary

0123_backpack01By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Each Friday, 61 students at Philip C. Showell Elementary School in Selbyville receive a bag of shelf-stable food for the weekend.

These students participate in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program, and according to Cheryl Carey, school counselor, gratefully and happily so.

Here’s how it works: Based on financial eligibility, parents can sign up their child (or children) through participating schools. 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.

“We call it Friday Friends,” said Ms. Carey, explaining how the school modified the backpack distribution process so that it’s easily incorporated into the school day.

“Last year, at the end of the day, the kids came to the cafeteria on the way to the bus,” she said.

But the program grew, and not unexpectedly, because 79 percent of the students in school serving Pre-K to grade 5 quality for free or reduced school lunches.

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

With the weekly assistance from a retired teacher turned volunteer, the meals are delivered on a cart to each classroom.

Moya Stitzl, the volunteer, also prints out labels for each bag, further streamlining the distribution process.

“It’s important to make it normal. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no stigma attached,” she said.

The new system works.

“Everybody wants to be a friend,” said Ms. Carey.

“Our kids are really nice kids. They get it. They understand that some people need more help. This is such an extremely positive program, and I can’t thank the Food Bank enough.”

Lexi, Mason, Jesus and Daysia, all 5th grade students, all agreed: the crackers and juice were their favorites, and if they receive an item that they don’t enjoy, there’s always a sibling who will eat anything.

“I like to share it,” said Daysia.

Ms. Carey describes her school’s families as “hard-working parents. Our community is fabulous. The needs are there, but the needs are supported,” she said.

“I can’t say thank you enough to the Food Bank and to the volunteers.”

It costs $158 a year to provide one child with weekend food for one school year.

For more information on how to volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware or to support the backpack program, visit

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Bank of America and Food Bank of Delaware Unveil Brand New Community Nutrition and Education Vehicle

Bank of America and the Food Bank of Delaware unveiled a brand new Community Nutrition and Education vehicle this morning at an event outside Bank of America’s downtown Bracebridge complex. In addition to unveiling the truck, Bank of America presented the Food Bank with a $75,000 to help support day-to-day operations of the truck. This is in addition to a $150,000 investment from the company last year to support the purchase of the truck, allowing the Food Bank to deliver food to families in rural areas or those living in a city where convenient access to a grocery store can be a challenge.

“Individuals continue to struggle to provide basic necessities for their families, including food and shelter. In fact, 1 and 5 Delaware children live in poverty,” said Chip Rossi, Delaware market president, Bank of America. “One of the ways Bank of America can make a difference is by continuing our long-time and ongoing support of the Food Bank of Delaware. Our investments will allow the Food Bank to expand its food delivery and educational services to reach families in our area that need this support most.”

The truck unveiling and check presentation was held in conjunction with a mobile food distribution for more than 100 families from Wilmington, including families from the Community Education Building (CEB). Bank of America donated the building to the Longwood Foundation in 2012 for the purpose of creating the CEB, which currently houses two schools. Twenty Bank of America employee volunteers distributed emergency meal boxes filled with nonperishables, frozen items and more.

“This truck is significant to our operations and to the food security of Delawareans,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “In order to alleviate hunger in our state, we must think outside the box. This truck will enable us to develop creative strategies to feed and educate more in our community. From feeding children during the summer months to providing hands-on training opportunities for our Culinary School students, this truck allows us to focus on two major priorities – feeding children and workforce development.”

The 26-foot-long Community Nutrition and Education vehicle is a multi-purpose truck that features a generator, roll-out grill, portable water tank and canopy. The new truck will enable the hunger-relief organization to host mobile summer meal distributions for children, provide students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware an opportunity to sell food and hold cooking demonstrations at community events, distribute food through other mobile distributions and more.



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Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Gallaher Elementary

Backpack 2014By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Last year we distributed more than 129,000 bags of weekend food through our Backpack Program, a meal program for children who are at risk of going without meals on the weekends and during school holidays. We are already on pace to exceed that number. For children at 136 participating schools, the Backpack Program is a lifeline for thousands.

Maria Weeks is the school nurse at Gallaher Elementary School in Newark. She also coordinates the program for more than 50 children each week and sees firsthand the benefit of the program. “Students don’t have enough food. Period,” she says.

Families who utilize the program experience a variety of hardships. From being homeless to losing jobs and downsizing to changes in the food stamp program and insurance benefits, families who participate come from all walks of life.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with both Maria and William, a father of two Gallaher Backpack participants.

William is currently laid off from his seasonal job. Work is plentiful in the spring, summer and part of fall, but once the cold weather settles in, he is unemployed. When he is working he is barely making above minimum wage. To help make ends meet, three generations currently live in William’s Newark home.

“If it wasn’t for the Backpack Program, it would be tighter,” he explains. “I wouldn’t be able to explore with other healthy foods.”

Because of the Backpack Program, his family is eating healthy.

“There’s been times where I didn’t eat, but one meal every other day. I still don’t eat until the kids have eaten and every else has,” he says.

Maria says that kids who participate in the program are excited to receive their bags each week. “Families are very grateful for the program. It has been very helpful,” she says.

For school leaders who are on the fence about participating, Maria urges schools to sign up.

“It’s not a lot of work. Kids are cooperative because they want it,” she explains. “It’s not as hard as it sounds at first, and the monthly paperwork is minor.”

Maria points out that school meals are sometimes the only meals received by students. “How can you expect a child to learn who is hungry? Kids who are hungry can’t learn.”

She knows there are more families who can benefit, but many are too proud to ask for help.

“It took me a long time to begin accepting help,” says William. “You feel like you are not capable of supporting your family.”

When times get tough, William will utilize a local food pantry for assistance, but he says, “I don’t like taking the help unless I absolutely need it.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.


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Take control of your credit with $tand By Me

credit cardsBy Ashley Michini, $tand By Me Financial Coach

It’s never too late to take control of your financial situation. Money can be stressful, but you have the power to take small steps that will make a big difference when it comes to your day-to-day finances. Here’s a tip for building a solid personal finance foundation: take good care of your credit score.

Good credit = lower interest rates. If you ever plan to buy a house, get a car loan or apply for insurance, having bad credit score can literally cost you.

Picture two people applying for a 30-year mortgage on a $200,000 home in Delaware. Person 1 has a credit score of 760-850. They get an interest rate of 3.294% and pay an estimated $875 per month, totaling $115,090 in interest paid. Person 2 has a credit score of 620-639. Their interest rate for the same mortgage is 4.875%. Person 2 will pay $1,048 per month on their home, paying $181,030 in total interest over the course of the loan. Person 2 paid $65,940 more for their home than Person 1 due to their lower credit score. This money could have otherwise been used to buy a car, pay for children’s education, save for retirement, etc.

A good credit score also gives you bargaining power. You can ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card or refinance your home, saving you money in the long-run.

Ways to keep your credit score high:

  • Make credit card payments on time, and if possible, pay off the whole balance each month.
  • Spend no more than 20%-30% of your credit limit on credit cards each month.
    • On a $5,000 limit, that’s about $1,000-$1,500 per month—if you anticipate exceeding that, one option is to make multiple payments in a month to compensate. You could also ask for an increase in your credit limit.
  • If you have any loans, be sure to pay at least the minimum payments on time, each month.
    • If you are unable to make the payment, alert the lender as soon as possible, often they have options for you. Ignoring it will make it worse.
  • Don’t borrow more than you can pay back. This may cause you to make late payments which will affect your score negatively.
  • Check your credit report annually for incorrect information.
  • Pay off any and all fines you accrue, everything from a parking ticket to a library fine is “fair game” to be placed into collections on your credit report.

Credit is a balancing act—you have to use credit in order to build it. It’s a misconception that having no credit is better than opening a line of credit. If you never open a credit card, or take out a loan, you will have no credit history which will limit your ability to apply for a mortgage, or finance big-ticket items in the future.

Each person is entitled to one free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) per year. Visit to view yours. If you suspect there is incorrect information on your Credit Report, you have the right to dispute it with the bureaus by virtue of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Have questions about your credit report? Don’t let it make you feel overwhelmed. As a $tand By Me Financial Coach, I can work with you to identify strategies to help you boost your credit score, provide resources for you to dispute incorrect information on your credit report, or get you connected to secured financial products to build credit safely. To set up an appointment, contact or 302-292-1305 ex. 206.

For more info:

FTC: Building a Better Credit Report

My FICO Mortgage Rate Calculator

MoneyWi$e: Good Credit

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