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Top three myths about the Food Bank of Delaware

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Maybe we could do a better job communicating what the Food Bank of Delaware does and what we’re all about? I say this as a member of the communications team, and because I frequently encounter people who think we simply hand out food and that’s that.

So I’m here to dispel three myths about the Food Bank of Delaware:

  1. The mission of the Food Bank of Delaware is to give food to hungry people. Yes, and no! Our mission is to eliminate hunger in Delaware, but our distribution system is supported by community partners, 620 hunger-relief program partners statewide. So, people can’t just walk into one of our warehouses and walk out with a bag full of food.

Our partners, churches, schools and non-profit agencies, regularly distribute food to families who meet specific income criteria.

We have a program which provides a meal box of food each month to senior citizens, and at Thanksgiving, our clients receive a holiday meal during a special distribution. For those who are in need of emergency food assistance, we always refer them to Delaware 2-1-1, Delaware’s Health and Social Services helpline. The team at Delaware 2-1-1 can refer callers to local organizations that can assist with not only emergency food assistance, but also utility bills, housing and more.

  1. Thanksgiving is our busiest time of year. Definitely not! Yes, we’re quite busy just before Thanksgiving and Christmas, but summer is our most demanding season. Surprised? During the summer, we have special programs that focus on the needs of children. Think about it: students aren’t in school and don’t have access to breakfast and lunch served in those cafeterias. So we have a very active Summer Food Service Program, one that delivers breakfast, lunch and dinners to sites up and down the state. The food is distributed to children through child-care centers, libraries, community centers, apartment complexes, and churches neighborhoods and more!

And there’s another level of community involvement in the summer: these programs, like most of ours, rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers pack meals, help with clerical duties, cleaning out coolers, and many more jobs most people never see or think about.

  1. The Food Bank deals only with shelf-stable food. No! Sure we distribute plenty of canned goods, peanut butter, tuna, and pasta, but the Food Bank is so much more than that.

We help clients gain access to fresh produce, teach people how to garden, either individually or in communities, and also offer cooking classes for children and seniors. In addition, we offer financial literacy support in the $tand by Me program, and we assist people in accessing support programs, including SNAP. We are very proud of our two Culinary Schools that train people for employment in the food service industry.

The list of programs is long, and it’s growing. Each one is led by trained, educated, competent people committed to our mission.

So, if you think the Food Bank is limited to providing a helping hand at the holidays, be assured, we’re working hard all year ‘round.

Check us out at

Here’s a look at how our food distribution system works!


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Culinary Student Spotlight: Kenneth Nocks

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern

For Kenneth Nocks, applying for The Culinary School was a no-brainer, as cooking has always been an important part of his life.DSC_0376

“Cooking is something I grew up on and it now gives me peace and a state of mind,” said Kenneth.  So when his social worker told him about the opportunity, he jumped on it.

Kenneth is a member of the 40th class at The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. For the past 7 weeks, under the instruction of Chef Sean McNeice, he’s been applying his newly-developed skills to explore new foods to prepare and serve.

Chef Sean has been grooming Kenneth and his classmates for entry-level employment in the food service industry. They’re working on the skills that culinary employers are looking for. In return, many graduates enjoy financial stability and job security. Some of the skills Kenneth and his classmates have been practicing include ServSafe food safety, culinary mathematics, knife skills, sautéing and more!

Cooking rice has always been a challenge for Kenneth, “I can cook anything in the world, but had the biggest problem with rice,” he said jokingly. Thanks to Chef Sean’s help, Kenneth is on his way to preparing perfect rice.

While rice has posed challenges to his cooking repertoire, he loves making chicken and dumplings. Soul food is where it’s at,” he says!

Looking forward to post-graduation, Kenneth aspires to open his own food truck and then expand into a bar and bistro. He says that both would specialize in barbeque as it’s his specialty and an ode to his southern roots.

Kenneth is just one of hundreds of students who have been positively impacted by The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. Are you ready to make a career change? Applications are accepted throughout the year for our culinary training program in both Newark and Milford. Are you food service employer who wants to make a difference? We are in need of internship sites and employers! To learn more, visit

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Partner Spotlight: New Castle Library

The lunchtime volunteers at the New Castle Library

The lunchtime volunteers at the New Castle Library

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

We are always seeking new community partnerships in order to deliver more services to Delawareans in need. We were thrilled when earlier this spring several libraries throughout the state signed on to participate as Summer Food Service Program sites!

Yesterday I visited the New Castle Library, our only Summer Food Service Program library site in New Castle County.

Jackie Harad, the Youth Services Specialist at the New Castle Library, and a team of three volunteers, work to ensure that the summer meal program runs smoothly at the library. Meals are delivered by the Food Bank every Tuesday, and lunch takes place immediately following mid-day programming.

From 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., children filter in for lunch. On the menu during my visit: turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread, potato salad, celery sticks with ranch dressing and chocolate milk! Kids enjoy the turkey and cheese, says Jackie.

She is happy that the library is participating in this year’s meal program and hopes that more libraries sign on next summer. The New Castle Library is already planning to participate again next summer.

New Castle Library kidsShe says it was really a no-brainer to participate considering how many students in her community utilize free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch programs during the school year.

“It’s very easy to do. It’s not complicated especially if you have volunteers,” she points out. “The only paperwork is ticking off how many lunches were eaten, but it’s not difficult.”

As the children ate their lunches during my visit, Jackie and the team of volunteers went around talking with the kids. So far the kids have had a great summer – trips to summer camp, one family went on a road trip to Texas and others have been catching up on their summer reading at the library! When asked if they were excited to go back to school, two young girls said yes, while the boys said no!

Jackie is thankful for the library’s partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware. In addition to free summer meals, she is also utilizing our SNAP-education program to provide nutrition education to the library’s young visitors.

Lindsey, our Summer Community Nutrition Educator, hosted a Fruit and Vegetable Bingo session at the library immediately following lunchtime. This program uses Bingo cards to teach children about the many different fruits and vegetables that are available. In addition to playing, the kids also get to sample fruits and vegetables!

Thanks to the dedicated team at the New Castle Library for helping us ensure that kids have access to free, nutritious meals this summer!

To learn more about the summer meal program at the Food Bank, please click here! To find free summer meals near you, text FOOD to 877-877, dial 2-1-1 for Delaware 2-1-1 or visit for an interactive map!

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Harrington women volunteer for kids’ summer meal program

Asbury volunteerscompBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Each Wednesday morning, Barbara Liimatta, Andrea Dula and Marlene Jarrell, friends and active members of Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrington arrive at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch to lend a hand.

Their task is to pack meals for the Summer Food Service Program, a program that meets the nutritional needs of children who are eligible for free and/or reduced lunches during the school year.

So the ladies join a short assembly line to pack child-friendly meals and snack items into bags that will be distributed at designated sites throughout Kent and Sussex counties.

While putting oranges, cereal and more into plastic bags, the ladies say they volunteered because they were asked, and they believe their time is well spent.

The Food Bank serves free meals to children during the summer through this program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Delaware Department of Education. This year’s program started June 15 and will run through August.

Volunteers are pivotal to the success of this program. Volunteers can help as individuals or in a group or team, but each person must schedule in advance so that we can be prepared. There is no need to make a long-term commitment, but regular volunteering is welcome, of course.

Last summer, the Food Bank delivered more than 190,000 meals to children. The meals are planned to feature healthy, kid-friendly foods, including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, grilled chicken on a whole-wheat roll, yogurt, oranges, nectarines, celery sticks and more.

Chad Robinson, Milford branch manager, encourages people to volunteer to help support this program.

“While the Food Bank of Delaware always needs volunteers, they are more essential to us in the summer simply because the needs of children are so much greater. The summer leaves those children who receive free or reduced lunches in a vacuum. Volunteers are our backbone in providing meals to kids in Kent and Sussex counties,” he said.

Questions about volunteering? Please contact the volunteer department at or (302) 444-8075 (New Castle County) or or (302) 393-2011 (Kent/Sussex counties).

Sites wishing to receive meals from the Food Bank of Delaware may call Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or

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Volunteer Spotlight: Tyler Cavanaugh

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern


The success of the Food Bank of Delaware is in large part thanks to our dedicated volunteers. One of those dedicated volunteers is Tyler Cavanaugh. Tyler is an 18- -year-old student who currently attends Glasgow’s, James H. Groves High School. He is volunteering his time to fulfill the needed credits to graduate, but is fully committed to making a difference in our community. Tyler is a hard working volunteer that has proven to be a leader in the Newark volunteer room. He is inspiring others to take initiative and make the commitment to ensure that Delawareans’ basic needs are met.

Tyler chose the Food Bank of Delaware as his organization of choice because of its convenient location. With the Newark location being close to home, Tyler felt that the Food Bank could help achieve his goals. Thanks to other volunteers, Tyler has gained many fond moments here.

“Meeting everyone has become a very cool thing,” he said. :”There are a lot of great personalities here which makes me look forward to coming in.” For individuals considering volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware, Tyler advises, “Do it…it’s a great opportunity to volunteer here, it’s a great environment and, in my opinion, one of the best places to volunteer.”

When Tyler is here volunteering, he typically packages up food products into boxes. The boxes are categorized by food groups. This allows Food Bank of Delaware partners to easily order off our weekly menu. Once the boxes are packed, he takes them into the warehouse on a pallet jack.

Food Bank of Delaware volunteers will see many food products, some common and others different. Tyler says his favorite Food Bank food packing group is snacks and desserts for the simple reason – he craves junk food! That’s okay though, Tyler knows the portions he should eat with the gained knowledge from the Food Bank of Delaware.

Thank you, Tyler, for all the great work you have done. A special thanks to all of our other volunteers that do a hard day’s work also!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Delaware, visit!

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Backpacks help fill the hunger gap

BP at campus communityBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator 

It might be difficult to find a kid that’s more enthusiastic about the Food Bank of Delaware’s backpack program than Danny, a 5th grade student at Campus Community School in Dover.

OK, he’s quick to admit he’s not wild about the oatmeal because it’s “just the original,” but the rest of the contents keep him going over the weekend, and he appreciates that.

Danny is one of more than 5,000 students statewide who receive a bag of non-perishable food each Friday. The food distribution is known as the Backpack Program even though it’s packaged at the Food Bank in clear plastic bags.

When the food is distributed through 137 sites statewide, it’s discreetly placed in the children’s backpacks to take home.

Campus Community School, a charter school in Dover, serves about 398 students in kindergarten through 8th grade, and more than 50 percent of them qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

Sade’ Truitt coordinates this school’s Communities in Schools, a drop-out prevention program offering services and support to keep kids in school. She also is the school’s liaison to the Food Bank.

“We’re a Title I school,” she said, noting that 109 students receive backpacks.

“And they love it,” Sade’ said.

Schools which participate in the Backpack Program implement their own system for delivering the food to the recipients, and Campus Community is no exception. Here both the head of school and a parent volunteer team up to get the job done, ensuring the correct number of bags go to each classroom.

“We have created a culture of support, and (for) students who are extremely shy, we do it discretely. No one sees it, and they are out the door. The teachers also support the program and make it easy for the kids,” Sade’ added.

“Meeting the physical needs makes a difference.”

Danny, who is an only child, says he takes the package home, and then puts the milk in the refrigerator. He sometimes shares the juice with his father.

“My favorite thing is the cereal. Breakfast is my favorite meal, but the pudding is good too,” he said.

It costs $158 to provide a child with weekend food for one school year. To support the Backpack Program or to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Children’s Nutrition Programs, visit

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Growing our own food at Penn Farm

10458843_10203264540965729_7957600534192743463_nBy Matt Talley, Produce Access Coordinator

For the second year in a row, the Food Bank of Delaware is partnering with Delaware Greenways to grow fresh, pesticide-free produce at Historic Penn Farm in New Castle!

Located on 112 acres of land off Frenchtown Road, Penn Farm is a fascinating remnant of Delaware’s early history. Named after its benefactor, William Penn, the parcel formed part of the area designated as the New Castle Common in 1701 to serve as a source of timber and pasturage for the local citizens. Over the course of the intervening centuries, tenant farmers have continuously leased the land from the Trustees of the Common, developing and improving the farm’s facilities, practicing animal husbandry, and cultivating a wide variety of crops.

In 2015, Historic Penn Farm continues to grow and evolve under the oversight of Delaware Greenways, with projects underway to renovate the infrastructure, improve soil quality and implement new community agriculture initiatives.  The organization envisions a sustainable, bio-diverse farm operating for the benefit of the community in order to inspire healthier lifestyles and better environmental stewardship.

10353025_10203264740170709_1075984040956546680_nDelaware Greenways first partnered with the Food Bank of Delaware in 2014 with the help of Farm Manager Becca Manning. The project began as a pilot to test the effectiveness of using commercial agricultural production methods to create a source of fresh produce for the Food Bank. This year, the program will expand to an area of approximately one third of an acre (14,400 square feet), planted with crops such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, Swiss chard, tomatoes and green beans. The fresh vegetables grown at Penn Farm will feed directly into the operations of the Food Bank, ultimately going to individuals and families at-risk for food insecurity through Children’s Nutrition Programs, the Senior Nutrition Program, the Community Supported Agriculture Program, the Mobile Pantry Program and a statewide network of 550 Hunger Relief Partners.

Volunteers are needed to help tend to the farm plot over the 2015 productive season!  No prior experience is necessary, but this opportunity requires volunteers willing to get their hands dirty working outside.  Shifts are contingent on variable weather and crop conditions, so volunteers should understand that the hours will be flexible and prone to be scheduled or cancelled on short notice.

Three volunteer shifts are available on Saturday, May 30 (9 a.m. – 12 noon) and Tuesday, June 2 (9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.) To sign up, please click here!

For more information, please contact me at or (302) 292-1305 ext. 249!

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