When the needs of Delaware’s food-insecure population changes, thankfully the Food Bank of Delaware quickly adapts and responds. Meeting those needs goes beyond the mass distribution of hundreds of tons of food boxes to thousands of residents and providing emergency food via drive-through Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford.
Homeless residents may not be able to access those programs. Thanks to a generous start-up grant from the United Way of Delaware’s COVID-19 relief fund, a team of Culinary School students and volunteer chefs headed by the Food Bank’s Executive Chef Tim Hunter along with Chef Instructors Tish Badamshin and Tiarra Thomas daily prepare meals in the Milford site’s commercial kitchen for Kent and Sussex homeless people sheltered in local motels. Much like the closure of public schools statewide, the Food Bank’s Culinary School classes (workforce development programs) were halted mid-session in the wake of Gov. Carney’s executive orders last month. Students were not able to complete the course or participate in previously scheduled graduations last week.
Likewise, chefs who would be working in local restaurants have been furloughed by the COVID-19 pandemic and have been donating their time and skills for this project that will continue for at least another three weeks.
Thanks to a new partnership with Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of State Service Centers and the Division of Social Services – Community Partner Support Unit, coupled with this crew’s skills, about 300 homeless residents receive three meals a day, every day.
The Food Bank created a menu of mostly shelf-stable meals, explains Chef Tim. The food does not require cooking. In addition, everyone receives a hygiene kit, and each Monday participants receive a box of snacks and water for the week.
Breakfasts, for example, include a choice of bagel, fresh fruit and juice or cereal, shelf-stable milk and fruit. Some days may include muffins to provide variety. Lunches consist of a variety of sandwiches, such as turkey and cheese or tuna or egg salad. Sandwiches are prepared on white or rye bread.
The dinner menu features larger, different sandwiches made on a hoagie roll, pasta salad, a fruit cup, plus a dessert – a cookie, cupcake or slice of cake – depending of the day.
State drivers deliver the meals each day; weekend meals are delivered on Friday, and include bottled water and adequate food for Saturday and Sundays.
To learn more about the Food Bank’s COVID-19 relief efforts, please click here.