By Chad Robinson, Milford Branch Director
Last Wednesday, May 13, 2015 was a great day for the Food Bank of Delaware. Each year, the sea of tie-dye shirts descends on Legislative Hall in Dover to share information with our legislators about the important work done by the Food Bank and our partner agencies. In year’s past, this day included visits with legislators, speaking in a committee hearing, serving a lunch to legislators and staff and even being received in each chamber with a concurrent resolution. Each of those has been worthwhile, but this year was different.
Early in the morning on Wednesday, a caravan of Food Bank trucks left from our Newark and Milford warehouses bound for Dover. All of these trucks contained products and supplies necessary to complete a packing event on Legislative Mall. After weeks of work obtaining the necessary paperwork and approvals, the day had arrived for us to complete the job. Our mission was to create 5,200 backpacks (one entire week’s worth) during our five-hour packing event on the Mall. As the trucks arrived in Milford and product was unloaded, it seemed like the task might be too large. Pallets and pallets came off the truck and were moved into the appropriate locations to set up packing lines.
Prior to the end, state employees across Dover were alerted that we would be completing this job. Thanks to the help of Governor Markell’s office and the Office of Management and Budget, e-mails were sent to all state employees asking them to come out and help us ensure that we could provide these vitally important backpacks to kids across our state. The Food Bank of Delaware also reached out to volunteer groups to assist. Among the volunteer groups we solicited, we had more than 40 representatives from Dover Air Force Base, 20-plus from Chesapeake Utilities, as well as others from Kids First Academy and Volunteer Delaware 50+. Lyndsay Humphreys, Volunteer Coordinator, said “it was great to see so many volunteers, especially so many men and women that serve our country from the Air Force Base, come out to help ensure that we got these backpacks completed.” She continued, “I was so happy the Governor helped to kick it off, that legislators joined in and that state employees stepped up to the plate to feed children.”
Amidst all the business of volunteers moving about, we also served lunch prepared by our culinary students. Volunteers, legislators, state employees and staff dined on pulled chicken and pulled pork sliders, grilled vegetables and coleslaw. The food was amazing and enjoyed by all. By the end of the day, we anticipate that more than 150 volunteers came out to help pack backpacks, and to make it even better, the job was fully completed by 3:00 PM. That’s right – 5,200 backpacks packed in less than three hours!
The day also included many Food Bank of Delaware staff being able to meet with their state legislators to share our important work. Patricia Beebe, our President and CEO was also received on the floor of each chamber and asked to give comments. In her remarks, she praised the efforts we are making to train students in our culinary program, as well as highlighting the important work we are doing to feed children across our state. The text of the resolution can be found here.
We would like to thank all of those came out to assist in making this event possible. This proved to be a great way to share our message in a tangible form with legislators. Across this state, children are hungry and I am so glad that we put effort into this event!