Category Archives: Programs

Seniors benefit from CSA program; fresh produce boosts health during the summer and beyond

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Jimmie Scott and her husband, Benjamin, are beyond grateful for the support they have received from the Food Bank of Delaware.

The Frederica residents are senior citizens, coping with issues that face many in their age group: their income is very limited and they have serious health issues. Mrs. Scott is disabled, her husband retired with a small Social Security check, and their godson, Hassan, moved in with them.

His presence has been a godsend to them, Mrs. Scott said.

photoTheir situation became extremely challenging last winter when they had no food in the house, and they lost electricity. The Scotts found help from the Calvary Assembly of God in Dover, one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s more than 600 community partners in food distribution.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I don’t know where we would have been,” said Mrs. Scott during a phone interview.

“They set us up for the senior boxes.”

Through their eligibility for assistance, one thing led to another, and in the spring the Scotts signed up for the discounted ($20) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through the Food Bank of Delaware. So from mid-June to Oct. 1, the Scotts had access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

They picked up a box of seasonally fresh produce each Wednesday at the Milford branch.

Traditionally, CSA members invested in a farm during the winter and collected their produce shares weekly in the summer. The Food Bank of Delaware uses a modified CSA model to distribute fresh, locally-grown produce to everyone, regardless of income.

The contents of the package vary from week to week, depending on what is in season. In addition to receiving farm fresh produce, some shareholders also received tokens to be used around their local farmers market to purchase SNAP-approved items such as artisan bread, fresh eggs, local honey, homemade pasta and much more.

Mrs. Scott described the abundance of fresh food the family received each week.

“I need those fresh vegetables. What’s extra, we freeze for winter, the fresh limas and green beans and carrots. We love those fresh peaches, and we can’t freeze the watermelon,” she said.

“We like that we have it (fresh vegetables) all winter long. We really like that.”

For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs, visit

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Walmart Foundation donates $46,875 to Backpack Program

DSC_0619webRepresentatives from the Walmart Foundation presented a check in the amount of $46,875 this morning for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program. This donation will enable us to provide 279 children with weekend and holiday meals when school is not in session.

In addition to the financial contribution, Walmart associates, State Representative Ed Osienski and Food Bank of Delaware Board of Directors worked alongside volunteers to pack bags full of food for the weekend meal program.

“We are thankful for the Walmart Foundation’s support of this important program,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Children are our future. We all must work together to ensure that young Delawareans have the proper nutrition to learn, play and grow.”

Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, granola bars, apple sauce, cereal and more. They are distributed on Fridays or the last day before a holiday or vacation in a discreet manner at Delaware school sites. More than 5,000 children participate each week. During the 2014-2015 school year, the Food Bank of Delaware distributed 154,886 bags to at-risk children.

The cost to sponsor one child for an entire school year is $168.

To learn more about sponsoring a child for the Backpack Program, please click here.

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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 For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware, visit

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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 or email or call 302-644-1436. For more information on the Food Bank of Delaware, visit

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Partner Spotlight: Burton Village


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

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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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Filed under Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs