Center delivers hot, fresh meals to homebound neighbors in need
May 2, 2023
Photo caption: Nanticoke Senior Center Marketing & Outreach Coordinator Brandy Widdowson and Chef Steven Carroll pause for a moment in the center’s busy kitchen.
The Nanticoke Senior Center in Seaford has a unique – and very welcoming and picturesque – home. For more than 10 years, it has served the community out of a former country club clubhouse. Its expansive windows overlook a manicured public golf course, and there’s a spacious deck for outdoor dining – or just seating – when the weather’s suitable.
In a ballroom complete with crystal chandeliers, Center members – as well as folks from the community and surrounding areas – are able to enjoy a home-cooked lunch, including beverage and dessert – at a nominal cost. There’s no charge for the opportunity to socialize while dining.
It’s the full-service kitchen that’s the heart of this center, one of the community organizations that partner with the Food Bank of Delaware. This partnership is somewhat unique.
At Nanticoke Senior Center, food acquired through the Food Bank of Delaware is used to run the café – or reduced lunch program – and a program that prepares homebound meals for residents of the 19973-zip code, explained Brandy Widdowson, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator.
This is no small operation! “We have almost 1,000 members, and we serve 85 people in the homebound program. Most of them get two meals a day,” Widdowson said. Although the center staff prepares and packages the meals, volunteer drivers deliver meals to homes three days a week. Meals are distributed Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays: one meal is fresh, the other is frozen. Friday’s delivery includes weekend meals. “We prepare over 5,000 meals a month for the homebound,” she added.
Keep in mind that there’s more to this program than just cooking a meal here; some must be prepared to accommodate special dietary guidelines. Some neighbors may require low-sodium meals, while others may be diabetic. And some neighbors may deal with other restrictions, but the kitchen crew makes sure all needs are safely met.
This Center’s staff also supports neighbors’ needs in other ways. “The recent Laurel fire displaced families. We prepared meals for them. We help in a state of emergency,” Widdowson added. “Last year, we delivered 33,000 meals. It’s what we do for people in the city who need our help.”
Emergency food assistance is also available from a small on-site pantry. “We do the best we can to accommodate. If there is an emergency we can help with the canned goods we have,” she said.
“We like to say ‘It’s more than a meal; it’s a relationship.’,” said Widdowson. As program and kitchen manager, she’s looking forward to a new partnership with the Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market. Thanks to grant funding, local farmers will deliver fresh produce to the center throughout the growing season. “We will be very happy to cook fresh produce,” she said.
Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about our community partners, as well as how to help our food-insecure neighbors.