Category Archives: Volunteer

Partner Spotlight: After-School Nutrition Program at Gauger Middle School’s 4-H Program

Gauger 4H mentorsBy Kim Turner, Communications Director

Every weekday morning, a group of dedicated volunteers work alongside Food Bank of Delaware staff in both Newark and Milford to prepare healthy after-school meals. Volunteers spend each morning bagging sandwiches and other items and loading individual-sized milk cartons and fruit into coolers. A fleet of drivers deliver the meals and snacks to after-school programs up and down the state. For many children, the meal received after school is the last healthy meal of the day until going back to school the next morning.

On average we deliver 6,500 meals each week. So far this school year, we have distributed 97,378 meals.

Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), our after-school nutrition program fills a meal void for many Delaware families. We partner with after-school programs such as the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension’s 4-H after-school program. Targeting at-risk youth, the program is housed at 13 statewide locations, including Gauger Middle School in Newark.

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the group of 4-H mentors housed at Gauger Middle School. Mentor Sherice Brown and eight others (pictured above) work with a group of more than 40 students, providing after-school enrichment programs to students. The program lasts for two hours every schoolday afternoon. In addition to homework help and recreational activities, the students also enjoy an after-school meal prepared by our team of volunteers. When I visited, students had tuna fish with crackers, celery, oranges and milk. Some recent and future programming includes construction of wooden bird houses, a culture project, microwave magic healthy cooking demonstrations and a career day.

The mentors, employed by the University of Delaware, are thankful for an opportunity to provide students with a meal.

Volunteers are currently needed to help prepare meals in both Newark and Milford. Click here to sign up to help in the Milford kitchen and here to help in Newark.

Does your after-school program want to serve free meals? To qualify for the program, sites must operate in areas where at least 50 percent of the children attending the nearest school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. To learn more, please contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or kgooden@fbd.org.

 

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Resolve to volunteer in 2015

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It’s that time of year when most of us start to think about what worked for us in the past year and what we can do better next year. Call the process making New Year’s resolutions, if you want, but even people who don’t make formal resolutions usually take time to pause and perhaps regroup.

Traditional resolutions often include plans to lose weight, save money or exercise more frequently. Those are all worthwhile intentions, but they often fall by the wayside before Feb. 1 rolls around. Not being successful in meeting new goals becomes a source of personal frustration, even a sense of failure.

While being introspective and writing out goals for 2015, and perhaps beyond, think about making time and a commitment to volunteer. Dedicated volunteers, those who make giving back a part of their lives, swear that by helping others they receive far more than they give. Volunteers will say that lending a hand is so rewarding in ways they never could have imagined.

The Food Bank of Delaware offers volunteer opportunities year ‘round in Newark and in Milford, and signing up is easy. Just visit http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com and using the pull-down menu, pick time, date and shift you’d like to work.

Volunteers can be flexible and need not commit to a regular weekly or monthly spot; you can sign up for shifts that suit your schedule.

What do volunteers help us do? There are many tasks required to help feed hungry Delawareans. Many.

Most people are unaware of what the Food Bank does. Our mission is to eradicate hunger in Delaware, but right now our network of more than 550 hunger-relief program partners serve more than 916,000 visitors each year statewide.

The Food Bank provides food to food closets in schools, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, day care centers, children’s nutrition sites and other non-profits.

So those food products have to be sorted, packed, boxed and even placed in backpacks for direct distribution. For example, if a business conducts a holiday food drive and brings the collection to one of our warehouses, that food must be weighed, sorted and shelved before it goes out to a food pantry.

That’s just one example of an opportunity because the food bank has donations coming from many sources, including stores, each day. Many hands lighten the task, as the saying goes.

Last year, volunteers donated 41,455 hours, or the equivalent of 19 full-time staff members. Volunteers come from all walks of life, and they represent all ages, races, professions. Some people sign up on their own, while others come as a member of work-place based team, youth group or scout troops, faith-based organizations and others.

Learn more about other volunteer opportunities at www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

 

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Volunteers needed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch

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A volunteer helps out in the Milford kitchen with the After-School Nutrition Program for children

We are in need of volunteers at our Milford Branch to help pack and sort food, prepare meals and assist with administrative duties.

Volunteers are needed on most weekdays from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Occasional weekend and weeknight hours are also available.

“Since one in five children in Delaware live in poverty, when you volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware you are truly making a local impact,” said Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “Volunteers help make bags for our Backpack Program knowing that a child will be able to eat over the weekend. Making a senior meal box means that local senior citizens can breathe a little easier because they have food to eat. It is quite eye opening to realize the prevalence of people in need in our own community.”

Volunteers can sign up as individuals or groups. Volunteering is a great team-building activity for local businesses, nonprofits, school groups, faith-based organizations and others. Helping at the Food Bank is also a perfect opportunity for youngsters to experience the benefits of community service. Children as young as seven years old can help; those ages seven-15 will need an adult chaperone.

Volunteers must wear sneakers or closed-toe, sturdy shoes. Some volunteer jobs require the ability to lift 50-pound boxes, though not all jobs require lifting. A minimum or regular commitment is not required, and volunteers can help according to their own time schedule.

Volunteers may view available opportunities and sign up online by visiting www.fbd.volunteerhub.com. Groups of five or more should call or e-mail Lyndsay Humphreys, Volunteer Coordinator, at (302) 393-2011 or lhumphreys@fbd.org to arrange a volunteer time.

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Volunteering at the Milford Branch

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Lyndsay Humphreys, volunteer coordinator at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch, had to hit the ground running when she started her new job here Memorial Day weekend.

Summer is the busiest time of year for the Food Bank because that’s when summer meal programs start up. Volunteers are needed to prepare and pack meals in four-hour shifts each and every weekday. Meals are distributed throughout the state to kids who may not have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session.

This is not only Lynday’s first summer of meal production and packing, but the Food Bank’s first time preparing and packing summer meals in our brand-new kitchen and volunteer room! Thanks to generous donors, we completed our $2.6 million capital campaign last summer and cut the ribbon on our newly-expanded building in September 2013.

Lyndsay, a resident of Georgetown, is no stranger to working with the volunteers who keep the operation going effectively.

She came to the Food Bank of Delaware from another non-profit agency, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, where she worked as volunteer coordinator.

An AmericCorps alumna, Lyndsay shares a great story about how she became involved in not-for-profit work.

“When I was 14, I took a mission trip with my church to Appalachia, and I fell in love with service. It was a major life-changing event,” Lyndsay said, describing her experience in Appalachia.

She continued to volunteer through high school, and then signed up with AmeriCorps, a national program that provides career paths through service positions. AmeriCorps members also earn money for their education.

Her church, Grace United Methodist Church in Millsboro, goes on a mission trip every other year, and this year, Lyndsay led the group of 30 volunteers.

Lyndsay’s job is active and very physical, but this mother of two young children likes that.

“I rarely sit down, and I like being all over the place, doing three things at once. I like talking to people. Every four hours, new people walk through the door. It’s nice meeting new people,” she said.

Because of her own personal experience, Lyndsay is well aware that for many young volunteers their time packing and sorting at the Food Bank might be their first foray into the world of serving others.

“With the kids, I am planting a seed, and I told them that this could have a big impact later on. I encourage youth to come in. This is the busiest time of year, and there is so much we could be capable of doing if we had the volunteers. It doesn’t matter if they are 7 or 107, they can come in,” she said.

“In a four-hour time slot, you feel like you’ve made a difference.”

Volunteers are needed all year-round at the Milford Branch. Volunteer activities range from preparing and packing meals for children, to sorting food donations and packing meal boxes. Want to join Lyndsay in the volunteer room at the Milford Branch?  View all of our available volunteer hours and sign up to help by visiting http://www.fbd.volunteerhub.com.

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Grab and Go summer meal program at High Point Mobile Home Park

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It didn’t matter that the thermometer registered at least 90 degrees and the heat index was 101.

Gaij Copes was ready to lend a hand at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Grab and Go program in his neighborhood.

Gaij, age 12, will enter the 7th grade at W.T. Chipman Middle School in Harrington this fall, but he’s no stranger to volunteering.

Missy Holochwost, Senior Nutrition Coordinator/Mobile Pantry Coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware, is his mother.

The Summer Grab and Go Program complements the Food Bank’s existing nutrition services to reach an underserved population of children who are unable to access our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at traditional distribution sites.

Providing adequate nutrition during the 10-week summer vacation is a challenge as these children scatter throughout the community with limited or no access to summer nutrition programs.

Children who reside in rural or isolated settings are unable to benefit from the meals provided at traditional SFSP meal distribution sites.

Such is the case at High Point Mobile Home Park, a community of 406 homes located adjacent to the state’s major north-south highway, but not within safe walking distance of a school or church.

So five days a week, Gaij rides his bike to meet the Food Bank van where he helps the driver unload coolers and checks off those who are enrolled in the program as they pick up breakfast, lunch and beverages.

Because of his mother’s work, Gaij is familiar with the Food Bank’s mission.

“I like helping people,” he said, adding that he also assisted in the sign-up process by delivering flyers with enrollment information door to door.

As a result, at High Point, there are 27 signed up and a waiting list of 10.

Bob, the site manager at High Point, praised the Grab and Go program.

“I like the program, and I’m glad people are talking advantage. It’s running smooth, and for me, it’s nothing extra,” he said.

The current program has been made possible by a 3-year, $300,000 grant provide by the Our Family Foundation.

 

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Summer volunteers needed

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Volunteers are needed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Newark and Milford facilities to help assemble and pack meals for children enrolled in various summer programs.

Sign up is easy and can be done online. To volunteer to help with the Summer Food Service Program, members of the community may visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com and sign up for a shift during the months of June (starting June 13), July or August (program ends in the middle of the month).

“Our volunteers are so important to us at the Food Bank of Delaware, and obviously to children throughout the state,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe.

“Nutritious meals that are also appealing to kids are delivered to child-care facilities, children’s programs, summer camps, faith-based organizations, neighborhoods and more. For children in need, these meals are essential to their health and success,” she added.

No experience is necessary, but volunteers should be able to stand for extended periods of time. Shifts are operated throughout the day Monday through Friday and some occasional weeknights and weekends.

The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Delaware Department of Education, provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to low-income children in the summer when access to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch meal programs are not available.

To help bridge the nutrition gap during the summer months, the Food Bank provides these nutritious meals for sites that feed hungry children.

This summer, the Food Bank of Delaware will deliver more than 200,000 meals to children during the 10-week program. To learn more about becoming a children’s nutrition site, contact Dan Jackson, Hunger Relief Coordinator at (302) 444-8128 or djackson@fbd.org.

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Starbucks volunteers pack 7,500 meals at Milford Branch

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Last Wednesday, Delawareans at risk of hunger benefitted from a dedicated team of 28 volunteers from Starbucks (also our 2014 Group Volunteer of the Year!) who came out to spend a morning at our Milford Branch.

There was a sense of enthusiasm in the Bistro as the green-shirted team members listened to a warm welcome from Chad Robinson, the Milford Branch Director. Matt Brandi, volunteer coordinator, explained the day’s work assignment.

Before heading to the volunteer room, Dana Krieg, a Rehoboth Starbucks store manager, took volunteers on a coffee journey to the mountainous regions of Peru in an exquisite Starbucks Reserve “Cold Press” tasting paired with a delicate combination of both sweet and savory offerings.

After the tasting, the group headed to the volunteer room.

Starbucks partners really embraced the challenge as they sorted, packed and stacked a record-breaking meal count: 7,500 meals or 9,000 pounds.

Jeff Danley, regional district manager for Starbucks in Delaware and Maryland, reports that to date, this event contributed to the now over 32,000 packed meals processed by the Starbucks and SiTEL families (one of Starbucks’ vendors!).

When all the work was finished, volunteers were treated to a fantastic lunch prepared by Chef Tim Hunter and the newest class of culinary students.

The Food Bank of Delaware appreciates the positive attitudes and helping hands of each and every volunteer. Anyone who is interested in contributing as a volunteer can find more information on our website by clicking here!

Check out more pictures from Starbucks’ volunteer day!

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