Category Archives: Warehouse

The other ride

By Nicole Wilson, Chef Instructor

As I came into the warehouse on a crisp October morning at 7:30 a.m., drinking my cup of coffee, I looked for John Sease, one of our drivers, to take me out on his truck that day.  I had been curious to see firsthand what it is like for the Food Bank drivers working their daily routines and the impact they have on our organization and community.

John greeted me as he was loading up his Chase “Driving Out Hunger” truck.  He was busily moving inventory onto the truck, and the main item today was tomatoes.  Other Food Bank warehouse employees and drivers were quickly moving pallets of food, strategizing their plan of attack for the day’s deliveries.

As I jumped into the truck, I was both eager and nervous.  Prior to our trip together, I had not had much conversation with John due to our different schedules.  John tells me about the route and the partner organizations we’d be visiting.   I can already see how passionate he is about his job.

A few people, including John, were surprised I wanted to go with him that day, but I wanted to know the ins and outs of the Food Bank so that I can better advocate for our organization, partners and the people that we touch.  John has been with the Food Bank for six years and started in the warehouse and has since become a leader at the Food Bank.  He is well liked amongst his peers, and partnering organizations love him.

As we are driving, I ask John how he knows what order goes to which agency

“The donations that come in from the local grocers and farmers get dispersed amongst the partners,” he says.

There’s an order sheet that gets printed out with the food on it, and John knows by heart what the partner receives from the Food Bank.  I learned that Mondays and Wednesdays are good days to go out and see where delivers most of the food.

First on our list was Child Inc.  It’s located within a development that has many children. When we pulled up, children were catching the school bus.  John unloads plenty of boxes of tomatoes, and they are stacked high in the organization’s driveway.

Our next stop is Pantry of Hope.  John backs his truck up to their loading dock and greets Mr. Leroy as he pulls up in his van to receive our order.  John talks to him for a couple minutes. Mr. Leroy was happy to see John.  I inquired about the number of people served at this particular location.  He said several hundred people use this site to receive their food.  Pantry of Hope shops weekly at the Food Bank, and we also deliver assorted goods once a week.

Donny helps us unload and as soon as it’s off the truck he begins to separate the order in order put it away.  Pantry of Hope stays busy working to meet the needs of the community

We quickly move on to the next stop.  On the way John gets a phone call from one of our partners inquiring about their food order.  John informs the individual that we will be there shortly.

The next delivery is for Neighborhood House.  The receptionist, Ms. Rochelle, greets John very quickly as she is multitasking between the phone and receiving our order.  Mr. Henry, a Neighborhood House retiree, jumps in to help us unload flats of tomatoes from the pallet.  Together we unload 30 boxes of tomatoes, and John and Mr. Henry talk like they have been friends for years!   John goes in for a signature and wishes the receptionist happy birthday.  She is flattered and tells him to have a good day!

As John expertly drives his truck down this narrow street near Life St. Stephen’s Food Closet we see at least 15 people waiting for our drop off.  They look cold and no smiles on their faces.  You can feel the down trodden vibe amongst the group.  Two guys help John.  One gentleman pulls me to the side and tells me how much John is a blessing to them.  They say he’s a good man and praise him.  I can feel the love they have for him and the Food Bank as I wish them well.  Many people in the community depend on John and the Food Bank!

As John rides through Wilmington, he begins telling me about Daryl Graham from JPMorgan Chase.  Many years ago, John drove a truck without air conditioning. The summers were brutal! Daryl talked to John and promised him a truck with air conditioning.  Daryl made it happen for the Food Bank and now John delivers in an air conditioned truck!

The next stop is the Delawarr State Service Center.  Miss Saunders is waiting patiently with a warm smile on her face and greets John with a nice welcome.  We unloaded 30 cases for the center  and then said our goodbyes and it’s on the road again.

Next, we stop at Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School and then it’s off to B.J.’s in Newark for a pick up.

We pull up to the loading dock, and Betty greets us with a smile and a hello.  She talks with John and explains the pick-up as we go to the freezer to get the inventory.  They had a half of a pallet today for the Food Bank.

We head back to the Food Bank and I am told that I would not be allowed to go to the Port of Wilmington due to safety issues.  So I decide to go with Erik Klair and Brian Henderson for a pickup at the S.I.W. Farm for the CSA program.

We ride out to the farm and meet the farmer, H.G. Haskell. The farm is very authentic and beautiful.  The farm has horses, dogs and even a mole that kept us company. H.G. wasted no time packing up the vans and then we were on our way back to the Food Bank with a load of fresh tomatoes and cabbage.

I learned a great deal about the Food Bank while I was on the road. It showed me that one person can make a difference! Whether it’s being a delivery driver, a chef instructor, a warehouse worker, an administrative assistant, a registered dietician, a CEO, an intern, a volunteer, a programs director, a programs manager, a volunteer coordinator, etc., each one of us at the Food Bank plays an important role!

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to bond with another Food Bank employee, even if it was just for a couple of hours, and embrace the impact that his daily routine has on the surrounding community.  I am honored to be a part of the team at the Food Bank and to know the great people that represent this cause to end hunger!

Check out some photos from my trip!

Leave a comment

Filed under FBD Staff, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs, Supporters, Warehouse

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Ken Ackerman

(From left to right) Trevor, Dr. Ackerman, Wes

(From left to right) Trevor, Dr. Ackerman, Wes

By Trevor Turner, Lead Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteers are critical to our organization! We can’t do what we do without the help of the thousands of volunteers who come through our doors each year. We recently sat down with one of our regular volunteers, Dr. Ken Ackerman, to see what motivates him to volunteer! As you read along, you’ll begin to sense Dr. Ackerman’s sense of humor!

TT: How long have you been volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware?

KA: I retired from the University of Delaware in December 2009 after roughly 50 years of teaching; 46 of them at UD.  I knew I wasn’t going to retire to “retirement,” but wanted to be doing something that I could feel good about doing.  In my imagination providing food seemed the most useful thing I could do with my time.  I knew about the Food Bank – though I’d never been there.  I called the Volunteer Coordinator and was invited to develop my own schedule.  I hit upon 1-4 p.m., MWF and it proved – then and now – workable and sufficient (sufficient, that is, for me.  I’m not a morning person and have been lucky for many years that I didn’t have to pretend to be.  In just over three years I’ve never been at the Food Bank before 12:30 p.m.  I was 76 when I started and am now 79.)

TT: Talk to me about some of the activities you do while volunteering.

KA: My tasks – and my understanding of them – have changed during the time I’ve been volunteering.  They also change as the Food Bank goes through it’s own seasons.  Tasks are different during the Summer Nutrition Program than during other times of the year; different near holiday seasons as well.

Initially I worked in groups; now I work mostly alone. That’s entirely to my liking.  I now know enough about the things that need doing. I try to remember always to ask what needs doing, but nowadays, more often than not, I see things that need doing when I walk in the door and get started on them and continue to do them until 4 p.m.  Happily, there’s no such animal as a typical day. Basically, I start work when I get out of my car – picking up stray pieces of paper that have blown across the grass.  Typically, I finish work in the same way.  Between stray paper in and stray paper out, it’s almost entirely a matter of looking to see what needs doing when the steel curtain goes up.

During the winter months, my day usually starts with sorting through perishable goods that are on the pallets nearest the door, then the refrigerator, then the gray and white boxes, then whatever catches my eye.  I then  head to the volunteer room to learn if there’s anything specific the coordinators want done.  There are few jobs done by FBD volunteers – indoors and out – that I haven’t done.

TT: Why do you enjoy volunteering?
Who says I enjoy it?  I do it for the money.  And the fame. And all the food that I eat while i’m there and/or carry off to put in my extensive home larders to be devoured later. TT: SIDE NOTE – KEN WAS JUST JOKING – HE’S A FUNNY GUY 🙂  And the opportunity to fill out questionnaires.  And confusing and being mean-spirited to the coordinators.  And occasionally seeing former students either down on their luck or volunteering.  Other than those things I hate it.  All other things aside, nice people, though.  A reason, I think, many people appreciate the opportunity to volunteer.  And having some autonomy.  And being trusted to do the right thing.  Though I only guess at that.  I may secretly be being watched! TT: Side note – I told you he was a funny guy…

TT: How does volunteering make you feel?
Warm and fuzzy!  All over! In other words, a difficult question to answer. Philosophically, it is a function of a conviction that lives should be lived – insofar as possible – in ways that make that living as useful to others as to oneself.  “To oneself” is an entirely personal matter.  “To others” isn’t guesswork if what one is doing – sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning refrigerators, evaluating the condition and serviceability of food containers, culling produce, discarding out-dated cans (every single one of which i HATE discarding), packing boxes, packing milk cartons, cleaning tables until they shine, etc., etc., etc., – will in the short or long run help deal with real human needs.  (I don’t play golf or tennis, and I’m not ready for park benches.)

TT: What would you say to others to encourage them to volunteer?
There are never enough hands to do all the world’s work. There really is a “warm and fuzzy,” though like many things you have to give in to it without embarrassment to experience it.  Volunteering at the Food Bank?  A slightly different question.

I’ve found it a place small enough so that – in time – you can get to know the place and the people (in your own sense of timing) as much or as little as your personal disposition permits.  The place and the people are encompassable.  I go in knowing I will enjoy the place and the people, enjoy doing things that need doing – even doing things others don’t think need doing – all pretty much on my own time with my own energy potential and my own motivation.

Try it; you’ll like it!  An old advertising phrase.  But my experience is that there’s a high probability that you’ll finish a day’s work knowing you’ve been doing something you’ll know or believe is useful.  It doesn’t get any better than…

TT: Thank you, Dr. Ackerman, for your commitment to a community free of hunger!


Leave a comment

Filed under Supporters, Volunteer, Warehouse

Food Bank of Delaware breaks ground on Milford Branch expansion project

It was a great day for the Food Bank of Delaware! Local officials, donors and anti-hunger advocates joined our Board of Directors and staff, campaign chairman Mike Castle and Senator Tom Carper for the official groundbreaking of our $2.6 million expansion project this morning outside the current Milford facility.

The 8,000-square-foot expansion project, scheduled to be completed in August 2013, calls for the construction of a full-sized industrial kitchen to house The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware and a volunteer room to house volunteer activities and increase hunger-relief programming in Kent and Sussex Counties.

“Even in the best of times, there are individuals and families who are in need and turn to the food bank’s network for help,” said former congressman and capital campaign committee chair Mike Castle. “In tighter economic times such as now those needs increases. The expansion of the Milford Branch will help the southern part of our state meet that need and will provide valuable employee training for individuals. We extend our thanks to all who have made this expansion a reality and to all who provide volunteer help to the Food Bank of Delaware.”

Since The Culinary School’s inception in 2002, more than 265 students have graduated. The Culinary School at the Milford Branch will allow our organization to train 45 students each year for entry-level employment in the food service industry.

“This is a great day and sign of hope for all of those facing hunger in Kent and Sussex Counties as we mark the groundbreaking of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford expansion,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “This project will not only enable the Food Bank to better provide food for those in need, but it will also generate 75 to 100 construction jobs and create a school for an additional 45 students to enroll in the Food Bank’s culinary training program and eventually secure good, stable jobs. That’s what I call a win-win for Delaware.”

To date we have raised $1.6 million of the needed $2.6 million. We hope to raise the remaining million during construction. “We are so thankful for those who have recognized that hunger is a critical issue in our state,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Delawareans in Kent and Sussex Counties are depending on us to deliver these much needed services and we cannot do it without the support of the community.”

To date the following organizations and individuals have donated:

  • Longwood Foundation
  • Welfare Foundation
  • Delaware Federal Delegation, FY 2010 Appropriations
  • USDA Rural Development Grant
  • Delaware Community Foundation
  • Perdue Foundation
  • IG Burton and Company, Inc.
  • Bank of America
  • Crestlea Foundation
  • Marmot Foundation
  • M&T Bank
  • Kent County Levy Court
  • Labware
  • Individuals
  • Dupont
  • Sussex County Council  

For more information or to donate to the capital campaign, please contact Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or or visit

Check out some photos from today’s ground breaking!

Leave a comment

Filed under Milford Expansion, Poverty, Programs, Supporters, The Culinary School, Volunteer, Warehouse

Newark volunteers paint mural

A group of Newark High School volunteers, led by Karin Lang of the Newark Arts Alliance, have completed a mural for our Newark volunteer room.

 The 26” x 57” mural features a map of Delaware, surrounding states and the Atlantic Ocean and includes images from Delaware’s agriculture and food industries. The group took a little over one week to complete the mural and donated 100 percent of their time. Supplies for the project were provided through community donations.

“We’re very thankful for the work of Karin and the students,” said our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe. “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization – last year we had more than 15,000 volunteers – so we’re pleased that the mural provides a bright and inviting place for our volunteers to work in.”   

In addition to the mural, we have also made several other improvements to the volunteer room. A non-slip coating was applied to the floor, stainless steel food assembly tables were purchased to allow for ease of movement and new insulation was installed for increased energy efficiency. Future plans include a new roller system for food packing and translucent window panels to increase natural light in the room.

“The upgrades to our volunteer room are helping us to feed people more efficiently while working to become a more environmentally-friendly organization,” said one of our volunteer coordinators, Jason Begany.

For more information about volunteering, please visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Advocate, Hunger, Supporters, Volunteer, Warehouse

Rising fuel and utility costs are changing the way we do business

By Ed Matarese, Facilities Director

$3.55 per gallon for regular gasoline?  $3.89 per gallon for diesel fuel??  The global economy and international tensions pointing to even higher fuel costs in the immediate future???  The cost of doing business continues to escalate, but our mission remains the same:  “Feed the hungry in Delaware.”

But in order to continue our mission, we must adapt to higher costs, especially the rising cost of fuel and other utilities.  Fluctuating fuel prices are the norm nowadays.  In the past 5 years, the cost of regular gasoline has gone from $2.36/gallon in the spring of 2006, to a peak of $4.12 in the summer of 2008, and is steadily climbing back to that level in early 2011 ($3.55 in our area).  Due to more strict environmental regulations, higher federal taxes and increased worldwide demand for diesel fuel, the price per gallon of diesel is quickly approaching $4.00/gallon.

 At The Food Bank of Delaware, we use both types of fuel; regular for our food delivery vans and diesel for our box trucks and tractor trailers.  In order to cope with the increase in fuel costs, we are changing some of the ways we do business.  In prior years, it was not unusual for our drivers to travel to Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and other states, primarily to deliver food and other items to food banks in those states, and return with a trailer load full of inventory which we needed.  Today, the reality of increased fuel costs and the cost of maintaining our fleet of vehicles has made us turn to third party trucking companies to make these deliveries and pick ups more economical.  We are analyzing our current fleet and are in the process of selling some of our tractor trailers and increasing our fleet of smaller box trucks and vans for local deliveries.

Our drivers still deliver food from Claymont to Seaford, but we are especially careful to make sure we coordinate our delivery routes and increase the number of deliveries in each vehicle to maximize efficiency.  We are also grateful to local corporations who have stepped up to help us in our mission, such as Wilmington Trust who has supplied us with gas cards for our drivers to reduce our fuel costs, J P Morgan Chase who donated a new, 24-foot refrigerated delivery truck and Ford / Newman’s Own who donated a new refrigerated delivery van for our Milford facility.

Speaking of our Milford facility, we are in the midst of a Capital Campaign to raise funds to double the size of our Food Bank to meet the increased demand.  We are incorporating “green technology” into the new addition to help control costs.  Features like solar panels, rain water retention / reuse,a geothermal system and smart lighting will help us reduce costs to better serve more people in need.  We have also installed a new baler in our Newark facility to recycle the tons of cardboard that we use, not only to help the environment, but to also earn income from the sale of the bales of cardboard.  And we are about to implement an organic recycling program that will not only help reduce costs, but also because it is the “right thing to do.”

 The Food Bank of Delaware is moving forward in its mission, while at the same time working to reduce costs and also benefit the environment. To learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.

1 Comment

Filed under Warehouse

We’re expanding our Milford Branch!

Senator Tom Carper, Congressman-elect John Carney and State Representatives Jack Peterman, Harvey Kenton and Darryl Scott joined us yesterday morning to officially kick off our campaign to nearly double the size of our current 8,000-square-foot facility in Milford! Carper also announced that Delaware’s federal delegation was successful in securing $194,800 in appropriations funding for the project.

“We don’t want people to go hungry in our community,” he said. “We hope this money will help leverage additional funding to upsize and expand this operation to meet the increased needs.”

 “The Food Bank of Delaware is a unique kind of bank,” said Carney. “Deposits go in, but they go to others. The return is the satisfaction of helping others in the community.”

Incorporating environmentally-friendly technology, we plan to expand our children’s nutrition programs, build a professional-sized kitchen to house a Culinary School, a volunteer room, school supply shop and discounted market at the Milford facility.

  • The Culinary School is currently operated out of the Newark facility. The 12-week program trains under- and unemployed adults skills in the culinary arts. Because the travel distance is a deterrent, a kitchen to house the program is needed for residents of Kent and Sussex Counties.
  • The kitchen will also be used to double the amount of meals produced for our after-school and summer feeding programs.
  • The addition of, Trevor, our great Volunteer Coordinator in Milford has put us on the map as a volunteer destination for Kent and Sussex counties! However, space is limited and volunteers oftentimes are forced to work outside or in the aisles of the warehouse.
  • The Market at the Food Bank of Delaware will also be housed in the warehouse. This discounted grocery store is open to the public and allows low-income families to stretch their food dollars.
  • A school supply shop within the facility will allow teachers from low-income schools to pick up donated school supplies for students in need.

 To date, we have been successful in raising close to $1.2 million for the project. An additional two million dollars is needed, said our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe. “The expansion of our Milford facility is imperative in order to meet the increased demand for food assistance services in Kent and Sussex Counties,” she said. “With one in four Delawareans depending on our services, the time to act is now.”

“It is not the responsibility of any one of these groups to feed those in need,” said George Reissig, our board member and President and Chief Executive Officer of Pixstar, Inc. in Lewes. “It’s the responsibility of all of who are able. This needs to be on our minds not only today, but every day.”

It’s an exciting time at the Food Bank as we focus on providing more services to Delawareans! In addition to our expanded role serving those in need, the new facility will also incorporate the latest in green technology! Plans call for solar power, a geothermal HVAC system, rainwater collection system for restroom recharge, use of recycled construction materials and more!

For more information about the Milford expansion, please contact Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0184 or

Check out some photos from yesterday’s kickoff announcement!

Leave a comment

Filed under Donate, Hunger, Milford Expansion, Programs, Supporters, Volunteer, Warehouse

Our Warehouse is Gettin’ Groovy!!

Our Peace, Love, End Hunger Blue Jean Ball is almost here! We’re getting ready to transform our warehouse in a space reminscent of the pyschedelic days! Think huge colorful flowers, peace signs, happy faces, bright colors, and, of course, tons of tie dye!

Don’t miss your opportunity to take a step back in time! The fun is taking place at our facility in Newark on Saturday, October 2. The party starts at 7 p.m.,  and our chef duo of Tim Hunter and Tara Kazimir have a far out menu planned! Guests will enjoy a menu full of 60s favorites and beer and wine, generously donated by United Distributors. Strangers, the Philadelphia area’s newest party band, will be entertaining the crowd! We  also have a large silent auction planned with an opportunity to bid on a trip to Hawaii!

You don’t want to miss the grooviest party of the year! Click here to buy tickets. For more information about sponsorship opportunities or donating to the silent auction, please call (302) 444-8074 or email

Thank you to our sponsors!

Gold: Bank of America; Pixstar

Silver: Dupont; Giant Food; NEIL

Bronze: AGS; Citizens Bank; Comcast; Delmarva Power; Nemours; Novick Brothers; ShopRite;
TD Bank; United Distributors; WSFS Bank

Media Sponsor: Out & About Magazine

Leave a comment

Filed under Donate, Events, Hunger, Warehouse