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J.G. Townsend Jr. & Company donates close to 60,000 pounds of frozen produce to Food Bank of Delaware

Pictured (left to right): Solomon Henry (Plant Manager), Chad Robinson (Milford Branch Director), Roger Townsend (Company Owner), Bill Lingo (Company Owner), John Lingo (Company Owner), Gene Bayard (Company Owner), Derrick Lingo (Company Owner) and Paul Townsend (Company Owner). Not pictured: Owner Bryce Lingo

Pictured (left to right): Solomon Henry (Plant Manager), Chad Robinson (Milford Branch Director), Roger Townsend (Company Owner), Bill Lingo (Company Owner), John Lingo (Company Owner), Gene Bayard (Company Owner), Derrick Lingo (Company Owner) and Paul Townsend (Company Owner). Not pictured: Owner Bryce Lingo

Remember Talley’s blog from a few weeks ago announcing a donation of 40,000 pounds of fresh, locally-grown produce from J.G. Towsend Jr. & Company? Well, we are excited to announce that the Georgetown company has donated an additional 19,000-plus pounds to us! This brings their total donation to close to 60,000 pounds of frozen black-eyed peas, green peas and beans!

The donation filled close to 6 Food Bank of Delaware trucks. The bulk produce will be individually-packaged as part of our new Produce Access Program. The program’s aim is to provide more fruits and vegetables to low-income Delawareans. This initiative shifts the organization towards a more proactive food sourcing strategy and commits additional resources to ensure a better, more consistent supply of produce.

Food Bank of Delaware volunteers will bag up the donated produce in to 6”x10” pouches. The bags are placed into coolers to ensure proper temperature control while they await the vacuum sealer. Once they are sealed, labels are affixed to the bags with information about the product, the food bank’s address and cooking instructions. Volunteers take the finished bags and pack them into cases before they are brought back into the freezer for temporary storage.

“Everyone at J.G. Townsend is once again excited to be able to partner with the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Owner Lloyd Richter. “We look forward to a long-lasting relationship in the fight against hunger in our state.”

“We are so thankful for J.G. Townsend Jr. & Company’s generosity,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “The donation is our largest since launching our new Produce Access Program. We hope J.G. Townsend’s kindness will inspire other local growers and processors to assist with our efforts to alleviate hunger in the state.”

For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s new Produce Access Program, please contact Matt Talley, Produce Access Program Coordinator, at (302) 292-1305 ext 249 or mtalley@fbd.org.

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Entries for Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge due April 3

The Food Bank of Delaware and Brae’s Brown Bags’ are encouraging Delaware students to use their creativity to help spark community change. Entries for the first-ever Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge are due April 3.

Delaware students in grades 1-12 are able to submit posters, YouTube videos (students over the age of 13) and essays (5th-12th graders) focusing on food insecurity, food recovery/food waste and healthy eating.

Finalists’ entries will be on display at the Coming Together conference, Delaware’s first anti-hunger conference for both adults and children, on Monday, May 4.

Prizes will be given to the top three selections in each design theme category and in each age group. Age groups will be divided into elementary (1-4), middle school (5-8) and high school (9-12 grades). Each finalist will be awarded a prize, certificate and the honor of their entry being displayed at a statewide conference.

“I think want I want most out of the conference and this design challenge is for kids to think about what it really means to be hungry,” said 11-year-old Braeden Mannering, founder of Brae’s Brown Bags. “I want them to imagine how it feels and how we can fix it if we all work together. For me it is to help all people have a chance to eat healthy. I want kids to know they don’t need a cape to be a super hero. Sometimes you just need the right pen or colored pencil or just the right creative idea. I want to see the kids in Delaware, all ages, join forces to fight hunger.”

Mannering, along with a panel of community members, will be judging the entries based on originality, artistic merit and expression of the theme. Only one entry per student and each entry must be the work of only one student. Artist signatures or initials are only allowed on the back of the poster. Each entry must be accompanied by a signed release form.

“We are so thrilled to be partnering with Braeden. Braeden shows that regardless of age, we can all make a difference. We are hoping that other students will follow Braeden’s lead and work to make impactful change in our community.”

Complete rules for the Coming Together Multimedia Challenge can be found at http://www.fbd.org/comingtogethercontest/. Tickets for the May 4 conference are on sale. Adult tickets are $40 until April 17; tickets increase to $50 after the 17th. For more information about the conference, visit www.fbd.org/comingtogether.

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Introducing… the Produce Access Program (part 2)

Did you miss part one? Click here to read it!

By Matt Talley, Produce Access Coordinator

After my initial visit to J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co., I wasn’t quite sure exactly what the outcome would be for the Food Bank. Speaking with the frozen foods processor was one of my first attempts to cultivate a better relationship with some of the producers in Kent and Sussex Counties. The meeting in Georgetown went well – the company had made some donations to the Food Bank in the past, and they were curious to hear more about our plans for sourcing more Delaware-grown produce in the future.

Everyone knows that farmers are the ones who grow our food. But that’s only part of the story, and what I learned at J.G. Townsend gave me a lot of insight into how our food system works. You see, there’s a lot of history behind that packet of frozen vegetables that’s might be sitting in your freezer. Let’s take lima beans for an example, since that’s one of the products processed at Townsend’s facility:

A lima bean farmer probably has access to the equipment required to till the earth, plant rows of seeds, fertilize and irrigate those rows, and ensure that pests don’t completely eradicate the crop. But that same farmer may depend on another party when it comes time to actually harvest the lima beans and make them ready for market. Many farmers do not own the equipment required to harvest their crop, let alone to separate out all the leafy matter, stems and other field material picked up by the harvester. The crop then needs to be rinsed, packaged and distributed…lots of additional steps before the product is finished and ready for the market.

Due to these challenges, your typical lima bean farmer is likely to contract with a processor. This frees up the farmer to focus on farming and allows the processor to work with a number of different growers to source their raw materials – lima beans straight out of the fields! Now, there isn’t a very large window when lima beans are ready to harvest. For this reason, it’s easier to clean and freeze the beans while they’re still fresh, and then finish the process to package and distribute them after the peak harvest period. This gives the processor more time to finish producing a market-ready product when they’re not busy harvesting, cleaning, blanching and freezing the beans fresh off the field.

20150210_135610 web Here’s where things get really interesting…have you ever heard of a color sorter? No? Me either. Let’s back up a little bit. If you’ve ever had a home vegetable garden, then you’ve probably ended up with the occasional weird looking tomato, mutant strawberry or extra curly cucumber. While it doesn’t match what you would expect to find in the grocery store, there’s nothing really wrong with it. It’s still edible, it’s still nutritious, and it still tastes good.

Lima beans are the same way, but in terms of color. Sometimes they come out a little bit brownish or greyish looking. A color sorter is exactly what it sounds like – a large piece of equipment that sorts items based on very exact color specifications. Grocers don’t want to carry something that looks different, so the processing industry uses color sorting to ensure uniformity of appearance in their products.

But what happens to all the rest of it? Where do the slightly brown or grey lima beans go? That’s what I was hoping to capture, a stream of perfectly fresh, good-tasting and nutritious product that never hits the market because of a slight variation in color.

20150209_135902 webThe Food Bank had just purchased a vacuum sealer, and this would be the perfect test case! If the processing plant was able to donate just one or two totes, we could develop a process to repackage, vacuum seal and distribute them to families to need.

A couple of weeks after our initial meeting, I opened up my laptop and received an email that blew my mind. J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co. had conducted an inventory and wanted to donate 29 totes of black-eyed peas, green peas and lima beans. If you picture the blocks that make up the pyramids, you’ll get a rough idea of how big a tote of frozen vegetables is. Each one weighs about 1,400 pounds, so J.G. Townsend was contributing about 40,000 pounds of fresh, Delaware-grown produce to the fight against hunger!

The next morning, we sent the first of three trucks down to Georgetown to collect the donation. The totes were loaded into refrigerated box trucks to prevent the frozen vegetables from thawing out on the trip back to the Food Bank’s warehouse in Newark and then into a large commercial freezer to await the next step.20150120_150330 web

Each tote basically consists of a large cardboard box, lined with blue plastic on the inside and sitting on a wooden pallet. Since this product was never intended for market, it was never packaged. Instead, it sits loose inside the tote’s liner in bulk form. One at a time, these totes are taken to the makeshift production line in the Food Bank’s Volunteer Room, where volunteers bag up the contents in 6”x10” pouches. The bags are placed into coolers to ensure proper temperature control while they await the vacuum sealer. Once they are sealed, labels are affixed to the bags with information about the product, the Food Bank’s address and cooking instructions. Volunteers take the now finished bags and pack them into cases before they are brought back into the freezer for temporary storage.

This generous donation of produce will provide hungry Delawareans with nutritionally-rich, calorically- dense food to help them stretch their food budgets and keep their stomachs from going hungry. Unfortunately, fresh produce isn’t always easy to sell to low-income customers…even if it’s free. Nutrition education is essential to increase awareness of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. To this end, the Food Bank’s Community Nutrition Educators seek to educate and encourage clients through onsite cooking demonstrations, handouts including recipes and preparation tips and other forms of nutritional guidance. Each package of frozen vegetables from this example will be distributed with a nutritional profile and recipes to help families to make the most out of what they receive.

20150210_135837 webIn a broad sense, programs such as the Food Bank’s Produce Access Program are necessary to not only improve access, but also to help stimulate demand for produce grown in Delaware among more Delawareans. By providing supporting educational resources along with access and availability, we can help lower the risks of diet-related health concerns such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By working with partners such as the Delaware Department of Agriculture, the Delaware Farm Bureau and the counties’ Cooperative Extensions, we can help to create more economic opportunities for the agricultural community to sell their products within the state. And with the help of community efforts such as the Delaware Urban Farm and Food Coalition and The Food Trust’s Wilmington Cornerstore Initiative, we can change the landscape of our local food economy. After all, doesn’t it just stand to reason that fresh food should be eaten where it’s grown?

If you are a farmer or producer who would like to donate to the Food Bank or for more information about the Produce Access Program, please contact Matthew Talley at (302) 292-1305 ext 249 or mtalley@fbd.org.

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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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Turkey Round Up’s success helps hungry Delawareans

14_Turkey01 By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

I had the opportunity to participate in my first Turkey Round Up one bitterly cold and windy Friday afternoon earlier this month.

Although I’m relatively new to the Food Bank of Delaware staff, I’m not sure why it was my first. I worked at the Food Bank of Delaware during last year’s holiday season, so I guess my part-time schedule and this annual event didn’t mesh then.

For the initiated, the Turkey Round Up is a Thanksgiving tradition. Hosted by iHeartMedia (formerly Clearchannel), area residents and businesses are encouraged through radio broadcasts and advertising to drop off frozen turkeys or a monetary donation to purchase turkeys at a designated location.

I was assigned to help outside the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Dover.

14_turkey02Since it’s mid-November, no one was surprised that the weather was more than a bit chilly.

That’s an understatement. A polar vortex must have landed in Dover the night before, but that didn’t frost the hearts of local residents. People of all ages, including families with children, brought frozen turkeys and food to be loaded on the truck.

Others brought cash and checks.

The highlight of the two-day event was a $16,000+ donation made by the Delaware Welcome Center!

It was nice to chat with (and thank!) folks who took time out of their day and their budget to contribute.

Late in the afternoon, two representatives from Dover Federal Credit Union drove up with turkeys, food and a generous check for $1,585.83. Employees received a $20 voucher for a turkey then given the option to donate to the Turkey Round Up.

By the end of the two-day campaign, the Food Bank received 383 turkeys, more than a ton of non-perishable products and $33,845.73 in cash and checks.

All of these contributions will help hungry Delawareans have a happier Thanksgiving, including the one in five Delaware children who live in poverty.

Learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware and volunteer opportunities to help our neighbors at http://www.fbd.org.

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Chesapeake Utilities Corporation donates $30,000 towards Food Bank of Delaware “Thanksgiving for All” food distribution

Check presentationThanks to a $30,000 donation from Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, 1,000 families in Kent and Sussex Counties will have a hot Thanksgiving meal.

More than 200 families received a holiday meal box – containing a frozen turkey, all of the trimmings and a roasting pan — at a distribution at St. Bernadette’s Church in Harrington on Monday.  Another 325 families were served outside Chesapeake Utilities’ Dover office on South Queen Street on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, 300-plus families were served at Long Neck United Methodist Church in Millsboro. The remaining boxes will be distributed at a mobile pantry in Dover early next week.

Approximately 165 Chesapeake volunteers spent three days packaging holiday meals last week and three days assisting the Food Bank of Delaware with this week’s holiday distribution. In both rain and frigid temperatures, committed volunteers loaded grocery carts with holiday boxes and turkeys and helped recipients load their cars.

“We are pleased to partner with the Food Bank of Delaware to give back to our community by providing Thanksgiving meals for 1,000 local families,” said Michael P. McMasters, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation. “This is just one way that we connect with our communities and it is something that our teams look forward to all year long.”

Chad Robinson, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch director, expressed gratitude for Chesapeake Utilities Corporation’s ongoing generosity. “Thanks to this generous donation from Chesapeake Utilities, we can meet the needs of 1,000 families, our neighbors, throughout downstate Delaware. The kindness and community spirit shown by Chesapeake’s workplace team is proof of their dedication to help the communities in which they live and work,” he said.

One recipient who wished to remain anonymous said, “This is such a blessing. Your staff, volunteers and donors have given us this wonderful box of food. It was cold and windy, but everyone pushed on. From my family and myself, thank you and have a blessed Thanksgiving.”

In addition to the holiday food distribution, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation is also making funding available to ensure that the elderly, ill and those facing financial hardship are not forgotten during the cold winter months when energy bills are at their peak. Grants are available to income-eligible customers of Chesapeake Utilities and Sharp Energy with additional amounts available for those over the age of 60. Also, the SHARING program has additional grants for appliance purchases or repair; the recently unemployed; and customers who are in need due to serious illness or family tragedy. Learn more about SHARING at www.chpk.com/sharing.

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Food Bank of Delaware marks donations from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation of two refrigerated trucks, food and financial support

Walmart teamThe Food Bank of Delaware marked significant donations from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation at an event this morning outside the Milford Walmart. Over the past two years, the Food Bank of Delaware has received two refrigerated trucks and more than $330,000 from the Walmart Foundation, and close to one million pounds of food from Walmart!

The Food Bank of Delaware received its first truck from the Walmart Foundation in 2012. Earlier this fall, the food bank received its second truck valued at $117,000. The two 26-foot trucks enable the hunger-relief organization to travel up and down the state picking up perishable food donations, including fruits, vegetables and meats, from local retailers – including Walmart.

“If it wasn’t for our customers, today wouldn’t be possible,” said Milford Walmart Store Manager Stephanie Edwards. “In 1962, Walmart was founded on the principle of providing people in a small community with access to healthy food at prices they can afford.”FBD team

According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 119,500 Delawareans live in food insecure households. Last year Delawareans visited the Food Bank of Delaware network of hunger-relief program partners more than 900,000 times.

Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe was on hand for the occasion. ““The Food Bank of Delaware serves the most vulnerable in our community. I am pleased that the city can be a part of this.”

“We could not possibly serve as many Delawareans as we do if it was not for the support of community partners like Walmart,” said Food Bank of Delaware Programs Director Charlotte McGarry. “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Walmart over the past two years. To receive two trucks within two years is really special and is much needed in our state.”

Through their long standing commitment to fighting hunger, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide donations of both food and funds to Feeding America and its nationwide network of food banks. The Food Bank of Delaware is one of nearly 200 Feeding America members that currently receive product donations from local Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation recently met and exceeded a $2 billion goal to fight U.S. hunger one year ahead of schedule and have donated more than 1.5 billion pounds of food to those in need across the country. Additionally, Walmart recently announced further food goals in the areas of affordability, accessibility, healthier eating and safety and transparency, which included providing four billion meals to those in need in the United States over the next five years. To learn more about Walmart’s work to fight hunger, visit foundation.walmart.com.

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