As a single mother of two sons, Brittany knows the challenges of food insecurity. The Milford resident is disabled due to mental health issues, and relies on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) to feed herself and the two boys, ages 10 and 7.
Because the $290 in benefits just don’t stretch to last the whole month, Brittany started going to the Milford Community Pantry housed at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford where she once volunteered. Brittany said she has visited the Milford Community Pantry for three years, once a month, the last week of every month.
The pantry is one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s 536 community partners. It’s been in operation for more than two decades, according to director/manager Tita Lewis. What started as an emergency food closet has grown into a pantry supported by a coalition of local congregations serving over 100 visitors each month..
The Milford Community Pantry is open from 12:30 – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Referred clients receive enough food, packed in brown paper bags according to family size. In addition, people also receive personal hygiene items, such as toilet paper and toothpaste.
Diane Dolan, an active volunteer at the pantry, noted that the metal rack shelves are stocked with donations, in addition to Food Bank products, thanks to the generosity of church congregations and individuals. “We are blessed with volunteers, and we are blessed with donors,” she said.
In turn, recipients like Brittany and her family are grateful for those resources. The last week of every month is a challenge. “It (food purchased with the EBT card) doesn’t last, no matter how frugal I am, and I’m always looking for ways to stretch it. I go to get enough food for four days,” she explains.
During the school year, her sons eat breakfast and lunch at school, but summer is a different story. “The summer kills me. I just can’t get enough food,” she said.
Now that school is back in session, her sons are also enrolled in the Food Bank’s Backpack Program, weekend meal bags distributed through participating schools. “They (her sons) are always excited to get the bags. Of course, they love the juice and milk. None of it goes to waste,” Brittany said.
“It has been a huge help, and not just to me. They help a lot of people in Milford. I want to say, too, that the workers are very kind, compassionate, and welcoming. That makes it easier to go to a food pantry. And it’s not confusing or hectic.”