Can you believe it? 2016 is almost over!
It’s been an exciting year of growth and change at the Food Bank of Delaware! We couldn’t do any of it without your support though! We are looking forward to BIG THINGS in 2017.
January: We started the year off celebrating the accomplishments of eight graduates of The Culinary School in Newark. Delaware Market President for Bank of America, Chip Rossi, gave keynote remarks for the special occasion. He reflected on his own past and how those experiences helped shape who he is today. “As you now leave the program and embark on a bright career in the food industry, never forget where you came from….your experiences and accomplishments have helped to shape and define who you are. And when I look around, I see a group of people who should be very proud of what they have accomplished,” he said.
February: Under the leadership of Representatives Ed Osienski (D) and Lyndon Yearick (R) and Senators Bryan Townsend (D) and Gary Simpson (R), the 148th general assembly partnered together in a bipartisan effort to launch “148 in the 148th,” a drive with the goal of raising 148,000 pounds of food or $148,000 during the months of February, March, April and May.
March: We celebrated National School Breakfast Week by visiting numerous schools throughout the state that have successfully implemented alternative breakfast models, including Grab and Go, Breakfast in the Classroom and Breakfast After the Bell. Chef Tim and students from The Culinary School in Milford also had the opportunity to prepare breakfast burritos for students at Milford High School.
In addition, representatives from Bank of America announced in March a $75,268 Give a Meal donation to the Food Bank of Delaware to help feed local families in need. The check presentation was part of the Food Bank’s first ever New Castle County community resource fair and mobile pantry, which drew more than 200 families and 20-plus community partners ranging from healthcare providers to financial literacy coaches.
April: On April 21 we honored seven supporters who have played a critical role in our efforts to alleviate hunger in Delaware this year. The honorees include Volunteer of the Year: Phil Williamson, Volunteer of the Year: Becky Varlas, Corporate Donor of the Year: Chesapeake Utilities, Supporter of the Year: Montchanin Design, Food Donor of the Year: Chiquita, Advocate of the Year: Paula Angelucci, and Partner of the Year: Giant Food.
May: We announced the winners of April’s CANgineering competition in early May. Twenty-three CANgineering teams competed to create Delaware’s best structure out of food items. Seven of these teams were crowned winners of the 2016 competition! A castle, airplane, truck, piggy bank and other structures were among the winners. Thanks to the efforts of our competitors, 69,811 pounds of food were collected!
The following organizations were declared winners by our panel of judges:
- Best Use of Labels – Bank of America
- Best Use of Most Needed Items – Karins and Associates
- Best Meal – Zakat Foundation
- Most Creative – Capital One
- People’s Choice Award – Bank of America
- Best in Show – Giant Foods
- Bounty Award (largest food drive) – Barclay’s
May is always a busy month at the Food Bank of Delaware. In addition, the 148 in 148 legislative food drive wrapped up. Thanks to the efforts of the General Assembly, Delaware Food Industry Council and the community, 173,709 of food were collected during the four-month 148 in 148 initiative. Inspired by the legislators’ commitment, members of the Delaware Food Industry Council, including ShopRite, Giant Food and Food Lion, stepped up to help in a big way. They committed 75,000 of the legislature’s 148,000 pound goal.
The National Association of Letter Carriers also held their annual food drive in May. On Saturday, May 14, carriers throughout the state picked up a sea of blue collection bags at customers’ homes. Bags for the collection were generously donated by Food Lion. Thanks to the efforts of Delaware letter carriers, we received 145,291 pounds of food!
June: Activity at the Food Bank did not slow down with the arrival of summer. In early June we launched our Produce Prescription Program made possible thanks to generous funding from Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation. Through this pilot, participating Delaware Pediatrics clinics (and now Brandywine Pediatrics) identify families who are at risk for food insecurity and diet-related health conditions. Referring patients receive a “produce prescription” which enables them to receive 15-20 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each month from the Food Bank. The produce is distributed outside the patients’ normal pediatric clinics.
A series of Summer Fun Fairs were held throughout the state at the end of June to commemorate the start of the Summer Meal Program and to commemorate a $69,000 donation from Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation to support our summer mobile meal program. Families who attended the summer fun fairs enjoyed a free meal prepared by students from The Culinary School, a cooking demonstration from the Food Bank of Delaware’s Community Nutrition Educators, face painting, activities, the Food Bank’s mobile greenhouse and a visit from the USDA Eat Smart Live Strong Power Panther.
July: The biggest moment of the year was the acquisition of our new headquarters at 222 Lake Drive in Newark! We officially acquired a new 80,000-square-foot warehouse in Pencader Corporate Center off Route 896 in Newark on July 6. Construction to retrofit the building will begin in early 2017. This project is a large undertaking. The estimated cost of the entire project, including acquisition of the building and property and construction costs, is $10.5 million. The generosity of our community will be needed now more than ever. We are grateful to have a capital campaign committee, led by Fred Sears and Alan Levin, that is committed to our vision of a community free of hunger. Read more about the campaign here.
The first Delaware WONDER culinary class graduated from the Milford Branch in July. These students’ tuition was funded through the WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness) program, a federal grant geared to getting people into the workplace and off SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. The program is led by Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services, which administers the SNAP Program in Delaware. It offers targeted career tracks in construction, culinary arts, manufacturing and broad-based job placement.
August: Our first-ever ManageFirst training program culminated in August. This 10-week curriculum is designed for individuals working in the food service industry who are interested in attaining additional skills to increase their pay and position within the field. The focus on the ManageFirst curriculum is to provide students with the next level of training who have been working in the field already in order to progress in their profession. Each week included five days of two-hour classes on a specific core credential topic. The curriculum allows for individuals to select from the core credential topics in a menu style format choosing single selections if not interested in the entire five credential program.
In addition to ManageFirst, we also hosted a Culinary Career Exploration Summer Program at the Milford Branch. Seven students, ranging in age from 17-21, had an opportunity to visit the world of commercial food sourcing and preparation. The program started July 5 and finished on Aug. 25; it was funded by Pre-Employment Transition Services through the state Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Students enjoyed regional field trips that allowed them see firsthand where and how their food is grown and also the path it takes from farm to restaurants.
September: Surrounded by Albert H. Jones Elementary School fifth graders who had just received a healthy breakfast, Governor Jack Markell signed legislation this morning that will ensure that Delaware schoolchildren receive breakfast each morning. Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, the “Breakfast After the Bell” law will require that public and charter schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision adopt proven “alternative service models” to provide breakfast to children at no cost. The program will take effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year, though some schools, such as Jones Elementary, already offer the service.
We also held our third annual golf tournament in mid-September. Sunshine and clear blue skies welcomed 23 foursomes to Fieldstone Golf Club. Spearheaded by Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant co-owner Kevin Davies, this annual event has brought in close to $90,000 since its inception in 2014.
October: More than 150 community dignitaries and supporters gathered on October 20 at 222 Lake Drive in Newark to officially break ground on our $10.5 million construction retrofit project. 39,496-square-feet of the current warehouse will be converted, and plans call for the construction of two culinary kitchens, classroom space for expanded workforce development training in warehousing and agriculture, a clean room to repurpose produce and bulk food donations, a volunteer room that is double the size of the volunteer room at the Food Bank’s current facility at 14 Garfield Way, a full-service bistro to provide on-the-job training for culinary students, a community client-choice food pantry, office space and more. The exterior of the facility will be converted to an agricultural destination with gardens, high tunnels for off-season growing, fruit trees, a walking trail, an outdoor seating area for the bistro and more.
Two days later, the new warehouse was converted into a haunted house for our annual Blue Jean Ball. Halloween was the theme, and guests were treated to a Fall Harvest Small Plate menu prepared by students from our Culinary School with guidance from presenting sponsor Iron Hill Brewery’s team of chefs. In addition to fine food, beers and wine, the evening featured a night of entertainment and dancing with Mike Hines and the Look.
November: Thanks to a generous donation from the Harry K. Foundation, anti-hunger advocates officially cut the ribbon on the new food pantry at Delaware State University on November 2. The Delaware State University pantry is Delaware’s first pantry on a college campus. Through the program, food insecure Delaware State University students will be able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting the food pantry. The new pantry will offer a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items. Students will select food based on their needs. Food for the pantry will be provided by the Food Bank of Delaware and school-wide food drives or community donations.
November is always the month of the turkey at the Food Bank of Delaware. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, Chesapeake Utilities, Bank of America First State Orthopedics, Communities in Schools, Palmer Home Foundation, Giant Food, Dover Police Department, DART First State, iHeartRadio and Trinity Transport, coupled with donations from schools, businesses, civic organizations and other local donors, the Food Bank of Delaware was able to provide 2,528 Delaware families with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Through coordinated efforts, the Thanksgiving For All program distributed 157,071 pounds of food statewide. Each family received a dinner box that included a frozen turkey, plus all the trimmings including mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables and makings for a pumpkin pie.
Just days before Thanksgiving, the TD Charitable Foundation surprised Food Bank of Delaware staff with an $80,000 donation. It’s not every day that a donor drops by with a surprise check for such a significant amount! Patricia Beebe, our President and CEO, was on the verge of tears as she opened the envelope to reveal the check.The $80,000 is designated for hunger-relief programming in all three Delaware counties.
December: We closed out the year with our final culinary graduation of the year. Seven students successfully completed the 14-week training program and will start 2017 with careers in Delaware’s food service industry. The graduates are Brenda Esquivel, Samuel Herholdt, Jeremy Kloepfer, Zachary Nicar, Nelson Porto, Angela Thomason, and Hope Truitt. On the same day, the Dover Food Lion also sponsored a shopping spree for 100 families from Campus Community School. Families received a $100 gift card to purchase the foods needed for the Christmas holiday.
From all of us at the Food Bank of Delaware, thank you for making 2016 a great year! We look forward to a successful 2017!
Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!