Peers who seek counseling and resources from ACE Peer Resource Center really benefit from services provided by the Food Bank of Delaware, says Linda Williams, CPSS, Lead Recovery Learning Specialist at the agency’s Georgetown location.
ACE (Acceptance, Change, Empowerment) serves downstate Delawareans from two sites: the other is located in Seaford. ACE is a day center for people that director Jim Martin describes as “vulnerable.”
Martin says he sees the impact of poverty and food insecurity all day, every day. He estimates that 60 percent of people living in western Sussex County – the Seaford, Blades, Laurel areas – deal with hunger. “There’s no employment, no opportunity to make money. If you don’t have transportation, it’s even worse,” he said.
“People give up, then they self-isolate. They don’t eat, and they get sick and die. They – particularly the elderly – feel too proud to ask for help.”
Each ACE site welcomes more than 50 people every day, people who walk in, sign in, and are able to ask for help dealing with life’s challenges. Many are facing mental health or substance abuse issues, or are in recovery from trauma or loss. The centers are not an overnight shelter, though many people who come in are homeless.
“The Food Bank of Delaware is part of our team to help people thrive and strive,” Martin said.
The Georgetown location on U.S. 113 is the agency’s newest office, and Ms. Williams said one of the first things she did after the move was schedule a mobile pantry. The mobile pantry is one of the Food Bank’s hunger relief efforts; food is delivered to eligible clients through a community partner situated near their homes. Up to 50 families participate at each distribution, and they leave with 70-100 pounds of food. In addition to non-perishable food, people may receive produce, chicken, and baked goods, depending on availability.
Last year, the Food Bank of Delaware offered 163 mobile pantries at 89 sites, serving 6,073 households.
Ms. Williams said some peers learn about the center through word-of-mouth, while others are referred. In addition to serving breakfast and lunch every day, the center offers participation in peer groups, including – but not limited to – AA and NA meetings, GED tutoring, arts and crafts classes, diabetes management classes, and job fair opportunities.
“We are program oriented, not service oriented,” she said. In Georgetown, agency leaders are in the process of getting peers certified to lead the on-going support efforts.
Visit www.fbd.org for more information about the Food Bank of Delaware. Call 302-628-3016 or 302-858-4963 to learn more about ACE Peer Resource Center.