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Volunteer Spotlight: Tyler Cavanaugh

By Chris Willis, Communications Intern

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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 www.fbd.volunteerhub.com!

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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 http://www.fbd.org.

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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 mtalley@fbd.org or (302) 292-1305 ext. 249!

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Free meals are available to eligible children’s sites this summer

DSC_0027compIt’ hard to believe, but the school year is drawing to a close. When the school year ends, access to healthy meals also ends for many children and teenagers. The Food Bank of Delaware encourages community partners to help serve free meals to children in need through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

According to the latest KIDS Count Fact Book, 22.1 percent of Delaware children live in poverty. Despite this percentage, only 21 percent of children who participate in nutrition programs during the school year participate in the free summer program (Share Our Strength).

Beginning June 15, the Food Bank, with help from thousands of volunteers, will prepare and distribute free meals to qualified sites throughout the state. Sites include faith-based organizations, summer camps, sports camps and other centers where children congregate during the summer months.

Neighborhoods and apartment complexes are also qualified to serve free meals through the program. To host a neighborhood program, an adult must contact the food bank for an application to determine eligibility, attend a training session and submit weekly paperwork.

If a site is located in a needy area (where 50 percent or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for free or reduced-prices school meals) and meals are made available to all children in the area on a first-come, first-serve basis, these sites are considered open and available to all children in the community.

“When school is no longer is session, many Delaware school-aged children lose their major food source for the day,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “With the help of the community and our team, we can ensure that at-risk children receive proper nutrition during the summer months.”

The Food Bank of Delaware encourages all eligible organizations and neighborhoods to get involved this summer to help alleviate childhood hunger.

Last year, the state of Delaware distributed more than 780,000 meals to children.

On the menu, participating children can expect to find healthy, kid-friendly foods including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, apples, nectarines, celery sticks, yogurt and more.

SFSP is a federally-funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and locally by the Delaware Department of Education.

Sites interested in serving free meals may contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator at (302) 444-8129 or kgooden@fbd.org. More information can also be found by clicking here.

The Summer Food Program is a federal program of the Food and Nutrition Services, United States Department of Agriculture. This program provides all children 18 years of age and under with the same free meal in accordance with a menu approved by the state agency regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Karl Jorgenson

By Lynda Pusey, Fund Development Specialist

Last year we received more than 15,000 volunteer visits! We can’t do what we do without a dedicated team of volunteers!

Karl Jorgenson has been volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware for more than two years and spends approximately six hours each week helping out at the Newark warehouse. He started volunteering in the kitchen and moved into the volunteer room. He loves the variety of work in the volunteer room and meeting new people.

Karl said he wanted to volunteer to help others but realized he is also getting something back. Since retiring he missed being around people each day and volunteering has helped fill that need for camaraderie. He encourages others to come in and volunteer, “Don’t think too much, just try it, it’s not hard and you meet good people while you are helping people.”

Food Bank of Delaware volunteers, like Karl, assist with a variety of tasks, including sorting nonperishable food donations, bagging produce, stocking shopping shelves, packing meal boxes and bags, helping to prepare and pack meals for the children’s nutrition program and much more.

With the school year drawing to a close, volunteers will be needed to help prepare and pack meals for our Summer Nutrition Program! Last summer, thanks to volunteers, we distributed more than 192,000 meals to children at risk of summertime hunger!

Summer meal packing will begin on Friday, June 12! To view available shifts and to sign up, visit http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

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Food Bank tie-dye descends on Dover’s Legislative Hall

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!

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Delaware letter carriers to help Stamp Out Hunger on May 9

This Saturday, May 9, 2015, Delaware letter carriers will again Stamp Out Hunger in order to provide food assistance to Delawareans who rely on the Food Bank of Delaware’s network of hunger-relief partners for support.

To help Stamp Out Hunger, simply leave a bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats and cereals next to the mailbox before the time of regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 9. Postal customers will receive a special Food Lion Feeds plastic bag in their mailbox to collect and store their items. Food items should be in non-breakable containers, such as boxes and cans.

Now in its 23rd year, the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger effort is the largest single-day food drive in the nation.  Last year, letter carriers in Delaware collected more than 253,000 pounds of food for Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table.

“This annual food drive is not only very important to our organization, but also our hunger-relief partners across the state,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Last year our partners received more than 900,000 visits from Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. This food drive allows us to stock the shelves of our partners just in time for the critical summer months where we see more families in need due to summer vacation from school.”

The Food Bank of Delaware’s most needed food items include:

  • Tuna fish
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned soups
  • Canned meats

For more information about the annual Stamp Out Hunger effort visit https://www.facebook.com/StampOutHunger. Volunteer shifts are still available at local post offices. To learn more or sign up, visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com and scroll to shifts available on May 9.

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