We say this every year, but can you believe the year is almost over? It’s been a great year at the Food Bank of Delaware. None of our past accomplishments would be possible without the support of a generous community. As we head into 2018, we look forward to an even better year of meeting the needs of our state’s most vulnerable communities!
January: We started the year celebrating the accomplishments of 10 graduating students from The Culinary School at our Milford Branch. The students spent 14 weeks learning the ins and outs of a commercial kitchen. For these graduates, 2017 marked the start of brand-new career in Delaware’s food service industry.
February: A few days later to start the month of February, 14 students graduated from The Culinary School in Newark. At the time of graduation, 10 students already had employment lined up. Ashley Biden, Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Justice, provided keynote remarks. “Many of us have experienced loss, grief and trauma,” she told students. “Many of us have experienced systems and individuals who have created barriers to our self-actualization – making us doubt ourselves. But, we are not what happened to us – each of us has the power to own our lives and nobody can determine your worth but yourself.”
February was extra busy this year as the Walmart Foundation and the Food Bank passed off the key to a brand-new refrigerated van to the Christian Storehouse at a special presentation. Thanks to a $50,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization, the Food Bank of Delaware purchased a brand-new refrigerated van for the purpose of picking up perishable food from local retailers. In an effort to increase the capacity of its partner organizations to receive fresh foods, the Food Bank of Delaware selected the Christian Storehouse in Millsboro to receive the donated van.
March: We celebrated National CACFP Week in March. CACFP stands for Child and Adult Care Food Program. It’s a program that’s federally-funded by the United States Department of Agriculture to provide healthy meals and snacks to qualified programs. Here in a Delaware, it’s administered by the Delaware Department of Education. The Food Bank of Delaware plays an active role in the program by sponsoring after-school meal programs throughout the state. For many children, lunch at school is the last nutritious meal received before going home for the day. CACFP helps fill this void by providing nutritious meals at the end of the day.
April: More than 500 anti-hunger advocates gathered at the Chase Center of the Riverfront in Wilmington for a state-wide multi-generational conference on Thursday, April 6. Organized by the Food Bank of Delaware and Brae’s Brown Bags and presented by DuPont, “Coming Together: A Community Response to Hunger,” the conference included children and adults, plus representatives from non-profit and government agencies, businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, committed to working together to end hunger in our communities.
After a successful conference, more good news came in April. The Wawa Foundation presented us with a check for $100,000 to support the Creating a Bold Future capital campaign. Wawa and The Wawa Foundation are committed to donating $50 million to causes supporting health, hunger and every day heroes by 2018. Since the inception of The Wawa Foundation, $35 million in grants have been awarded to community recipients.
May: On the first day of May, we announced the winners of the 5th annual CANgineering competition. The competition provided a creative way to collect much-needed food and create a spirited competition in Delaware’s business and educational communities. Companies held food drives and competed to create sculptures out of the food items collected. In total, the Food Bank of Delaware received 41,079 pounds of food and $21,419.14, the equivalent of 93,115 total pounds. The option to donate money put the drive over the top this year – generous employees from Barclays donated the bulk of monetary donations.
June: We released the second edition of Breakfast First: A Statewide School Breakfast Report on June 20 at Legislative Hall. Delaware senators and representatives were among the first to review the report. The second edition of the report focuses on House Bill 408, passed by the 148th Delaware General Assembly and signed into law by Former Governor Jack Markell in September 2016. The law aims to help increase school breakfast consumption across the state through alternative breakfast models such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go and Second Chance Breakfast. Every public school, including charter school sites, participating in the Community Eligibility Provision are required to offer a breakfast at no cost to every student in the school through an Alternative Service Model.
We kicked off our Grab and Go summer meal program for kids in June as well. Grab and Go offers kids a flexible, convenient way to get healthy, free meals over the summer months! While traditional meal sites, where kids eat on site, were still available throughout the state, the Food Bank of Delaware determined it was necessary to change our summer meal program in order to best serve the community. We committed our organizational resources to focus only on filling in service gaps through the Grab and Go model, enabling kids to take their meals and eat at home.
To close out the month, we received good news from legislators in Dover. House Bill 61 passed both the House and Senate. Sponsored by Representative Paul Baumbach and co-sponsored by Senators Bryan Townsend and Brian Pettyjohn, House Bill 61 adds four new check-off donation boxes on the Delaware personal income tax return. Individuals may choose to donate a portion of their tax refund or designate an amount in addition to the tax they owe that will be transferred by the Division of Revenue to the Food Bank, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, or Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County.
July: Food Lion Feeds Hunger Relief Day was held at the Delaware State Fair on Monday, July 24. Hunger Relief Day is a partnership involving Food Lion, the Delaware State Fair and the Food Bank of Delaware. Fair attendees who brought five Food Lion brand canned or boxed goods received one free gate admittance to the Delaware State Fair.Fair-goers donated 24,829 pounds of food that was distributed to hungry Delawareans in Kent and Sussex County with the help of our network of hunger-relief partners.
August: Monday, Aug. 7 was a very busy day in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch Culinary School kitchen. It was Migrating to the Kitchen Day for students enrolled in the federally funded Title 1-C National Migrant Education Program. Eighteen very enthusiastic young student chefs helped prepare lunch using local produce under the watchful eyes – and with guidance – from the Food Bank’s Executive Chef Tim Hunter, Chef Instructor Tish Badamshin, culinary school alumni Anthony and Eric, and students Meg and Victoria. Together they prepared a delicious meal using local produce that was picked or packed by their parents. Perdue in Milford donated chicken for the event.
A few days later on August 10, a celebratory ceremony and brunch was held today for the Summer 2017 Pre-Employment Transition Services Culinary Career Exploration Program at the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford. The program was made possible thanks to the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Since June 10, the students attended training three days a week for three hours each day. The program was free to qualified students – ages 16-21 who already received Division of Vocational Rehabilitation assistance. Through this partnership, students learned kitchen safety, knife skills and also experienced cooking and baking opportunities.
September: As part of the 2017 Summer of Service to Seniors, a partnership between the AARP Foundation and AARP Credit Card from Chase, more than 400 Chase volunteers gathered on September 6 at the bank’s Walnut Street location in Wilmington to pack 27,000 meals for Delaware seniors at risk of hunger. A rainy afternoon did not put a damper on the spirit of the day. Four assembly lines were set up in a covered parking lot to protect volunteers and food product from passing rain showers. Throughout the afternoon two shifts of volunteers worked together to pack boxes filled with shelf-stable food for Delaware seniors.
As part of the graduation celebration of the 49th and 50th classes of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, Barclays presented a check for $125,000 to help support the Food Bank’s culinary workforce development program on September 14. Funding will support student scholarships to The Culinary School, the Food Bank’s alumni-run food cart and the ManageFirst specialized food training program.
October: Mike Hines and The Look had the future warehouse at 222 Lake Drive rocking on Saturday, October 21 for our 12th annual Blue Jean Ball, presented by Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant! The warehouse was decked out for Halloween, and guests spent the evening enjoying fine foods and beers from Iron Hill Brewery, wine donated by Breakthru Beverage and dancing! A team of chefs from Iron Hill worked alongside students from The Culinary School to prepare for the night’s menu. A sea of glow sticks and flashing sticks filled the dance floor as Mike Hines and The Look performed both today’s top hits and classic party tunes! The festive, casual event featured guests dressed in botThe h costume and blue jeans.
November: Thanks to a generous $15,000 donation from Chesapeake Utilities, the Food Bank of Delaware distributed 550 holiday meal boxes to hungry Delawareans from sites in Georgetown, Harrington, and Dover the week before Thanksgiving. In addition to the 550 meal boxes sponsored by Chesapeake, 1,100 meal boxes were distributed on Friday to local organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and others who serve those in need.Holiday meal boxes included a turkey plus the fixings – side dishes, like cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, a dessert, and even a roasting pan. This outreach would not be possible without generous corporate sponsorships from Chesapeake Utilities, Bank of America, First State Orthopedics, Palmer Home Foundation, Chase, Communities in Schools, Dover Police Department and Trinity Logistics. Food drives like DART Stuff the Bus and the Turkey Round Up also helped to fill the meal boxes.
GREAT news was delivered in November from the Longwood Foundation. They announced a $1.5 million gift to our Creating a Bold Future capital campaign! To better serve the community, we acquired an 80,000-square-foot facility in July 2016. Located at 222 Lake Drive in Newark, this new building will enable us to maximize operational efficiency, while increasing capacity to meet the needs of people experiencing food insecurity. Construction on the exterior farm began in November and interior construction will begin in 2018!
December: The Harry K Foundation and Perdue supported a Christmas meal box distribution as part of the Holidays For All initiative. Harry K donated $5,500 and Perdue donated 500 roaster chickens to support families with children enrolled at schools supported by the Harry K Foundation. The donation is part of a larger year-round effort by the Harry K Foundation; this year alone, the Foundation has donated $144,000 to support anti-hunger programs for children throughout the state.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car presented a donation in the amount of $25,000 in early December to help support hunger-relief programming in all three states.
THANK YOU for a great 2017! Here’s to a hunger-free 2018! Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!