The Food Bank of Delaware officially turned 40 years today. The occasion was marked with special remarks from Delaware dignitaries and a drive-thru birthday party in Newark and Milford to collect food for the Food Bank’s continued COVID-19 relief effort.
The Food Bank’s beginnings can be found at Westminster Presbyterian Church where Retha Fisher, Director of Community Services, formed a Food Closet Study Committee in 1977 to help improve the church’s hunger-relief efforts. Four years later Food Conservers, Inc., was established (name later changed to the Food Bank of Delaware) and officially incorporated on March 26, 1981.
“I am very proud to be here today,” said Fisher. “We have come a long way since our beginning. At the time nobody thought a food bank was needed here in Delaware. Over the years, we have shown why this organization is needed.”
Today, the Food Bank of Delaware is the only facility in Delaware with the equipment, warehouse and staff to collect donations from all sectors of the food industry and safely and efficiently redistribute them to those who need it most. In addition to its ability to redistribute millions of pounds of food to those who need it most, the organization has evolved since its beginnings.
“While distributing food to those in need is our main mission,” said Board Chairman Andy Larmore, “This organization is so much more. This farm behind me represents the innovation and growth of the Food Bank over the past 40 years. Growing our own foods and training individuals for new careers in food service and warehousing/logistics have become key tenants for achieving our vision of a community free of hunger.”
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, Senator David Sokola, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons were on hand to present tributes in recognition of the Food Bank’s 40 years of service to the community in a socially-distanced outdoor event.
“Throughout the last four decades, the Food Bank of Delaware’s staff members and it’s many steadfast volunteers have played an integral part in providing healthy, nutritious food and education to Delaware families,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “We are lucky to have their leadership, especially throughout this past year when they jumped into action to respond to the overwhelming need brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“After 40 years, the Food Bank of Delaware has gone from what started as an initiative at a church in Wilmington to the remarkable organization we have today, which in the last year alone, distributed nearly 18 million pounds of food to keep Delawareans from being hungry amid this pandemic,” U.S. Senator Chris Coons said. “Thank you to Retha Fisher for her vision, and thank you to all the staff, volunteers, and contributors for all they’ve accomplished. Congratulations to the Food Bank on 40 wonderful years of making Delaware healthier, safer, and stronger.”
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney chairs the Food Bank of Delaware’s Coalition to End Hunger and serves as a champion for childhood hunger issues. She was on hand to congratulate the Food Bank for forty years of service.
“It has been a great privilege for me to work so closely with the Food Bank for four of its 40 years. But seeing what you have been able to do during the pandemic has been truly awe-inspiring. You have been a model of adaptability, innovation, determination and commitment, providing both great leadership and great partnership,” she said.