At the Food Bank of Delaware, we recognize that nearly one in five Delaware children are food insecure. With the help of our community partners and volunteers, we offer food directly to at-risk children – and their families – through a variety of programs.
Some of those programs operate through partnerships with schools. For example, we assist the students at Campus Community School in Dover, and their families, through the Backpack Program and a newly opened school pantry.
Campus Community School is a free, public charter school serving 419 students in grades kindergarten through 8.
Whitney Towns, the Community in Schools program director, manages the food assistance programs from a small office adjacent to the school cafeteria.
The backpack program provides weekend meals for children. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 160,800 backpacks through 133 statewide sites. At Campus Community School, 114 students go home with a backpack each weekend.
“It’s very successful,” said Whitney, adding that she believes there is a potential to serve even more families.
She reports that students seem to like the healthy, nourishing food in the backpacks; they are learning to read food labels in school in order to be able to make healthy choices.
Because she is in daily contact with families and aware of their situations, this Harry K Foundation sponsored food pantry opened at the end of March.
“Parents in need have confidentiality here,” Whitney said. Its location – set up in locked cabinets in the back of her office – make it accessible for parents to discreetly seek assistance.
“The ones who know it’s here love it. It’s working out really well,” she said.
Whitney posted signs about the pantry during a recent parent-teacher conference, and to help get the word out, she met with and emailed teachers. In turn, the teachers have responded back with support for the program.
In just less than two months, 13 families have come in for emergency food and personal hygiene items; and three of those were families with more than five children.
Thanks to Whitney’s work schedule and her commitment to the pantry, parents are able to visit on a drop-in basis.
“I’m very excited to have the pantry here. We can clearly see the need,” she said.
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s backpack and school pantry programs, visit www.fbd.org.