Rehoboth Beach and the Cape region have become known as a wealthy resort – an area with a robust economy, million dollar homes, fine dining opportunities, and a vacation destination. All that’s true, but right in the center of vacation homes is a bustling food pantry, the Cape Henlopen Food Basket.
This food pantry, one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s 536 Hunger Relief Program Partners, is located just a block off Del. 1, and last year this volunteer-run organization served nearly 6,000 people or over 2,000 households.
Director Jon DeVoll describes the clients, those experiencing food insecurity, as “the working poor.” These people have jobs, but something happens – the car breaks down or the roof leaks – and they need temporary aid,” he said.
The pantry only serves Cape Henlopen School District residents; people must show proof of residency, said DeVos, whose been leading the organization since 2012. “We never turn anyone away. We will give them something, an emergency bag.”
Anyone can visit three times in a three-month period without an evaluation or a referral to a state social services’ center.
Those who need assistance from the state agency can meet with someone in the Community Resource Center, the same building where the Cape Henlopen Food Basket is located.
While summer is a busy time in the Rehoboth community, it’s slower for this food pantry. “It picks up once school starts,” DeVoll said.
“A big percentage (of clients) are seniors talking care of grandchildren,” he added.
Eighty committed volunteers keep this pantry running. “Most are retirees in their low 70s; our scheduler is 89,” said DeVoll, a retiree himself. “The people we get never quit.” There’s a 12-member board which operates year ‘round.
This community pantry is sponsored by the Lewes Rehoboth Beach Association of Churches and is very fortunate to receive support – in terms of food donations – from local grocery stores, including Weis, Giant, and Safeway. In addition, DeVoll said, local churches and organizations, as well as individuals donate food to keep the shelves stocked.
The center is open, staffed by three people, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but closing at noon in Friday – due to traffic – in the summer. Families who visit can get non-perishable items, bread, frozen meat, and miscellaneous household items from a “free” shelf.
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger relief efforts, click here.