Harry K Foundation, Food Bank of Delaware mark grand opening of Community Education Building school pantry
February 24, 2016
Thanks to a generous donation from the Harry K Foundation, anti-hunger advocates officially cut the ribbon on the new school pantry at the Community Education Building (CEB) this morning.
The CEB, made possible by a building donation from Bank of America and funding from the Longwood Foundation, currently houses three charter schools in downtown Wilmington. Thanks to the generosity of the Harry K Foundation, families with students enrolled at the CEB are able to access emergency food and hygiene products by visiting the food pantry.
The new pantry offers a variety of nutritious food products and hygiene items. Families select food based on their household’s needs each week. Food for the pantry is provided by the Food Bank of Delaware.
Prior to today’s ribbon cutting, staff had already begun serving families in need of emergency food. Two families had the opportunity to speak and praised Harry Keswani and his foundation for their generosity. If not for the school pantry, many families would not have sufficient food in their homes.
A Rehoboth Beach business man, Harry was deeply concerned that a mile from where he works on the boardwalk children were going to bed hungry at night. To help meet the need, he started a 501 c(3) foundation in 2013 and began raising money through his annual Christmas Ball. One-hundred percent of money raised goes directly back to children in need.
With the Food Bank of Delaware’s logistical help, Harry sponsored his first 20 school pantries in Kent and Sussex Counties. Today’s ribbon cutting marked the opening of the first Harry K-sponsored food pantry in New Castle County. Three more will open in the coming weeks.
In addition to supporting school pantries, Harry has also donated an additional $88,548 that has enabled the Food Bank of Delaware to fund 560 children through its weekend Backpack Program.
“Today is a very exciting day,” said Keswani. “We are opening our first pantry in New Castle County. It’s something big for us. We have 20 pantries in the south, and the need is here. That’s why we are doing this.”
Aretha Miller, the Community Education Building’s Chief Executive Officer, pointed out that one in three children in Wilmington live in poverty.
“The whole idea behind this is if children are hungry they cannot pay attention in the classroom,” Miller said. “By making sure they are nourished, they are able to stay focused on the learning that is taking place in the classroom. We want CEB students to understand that this is the one place where we will do whatever is in our power to ensure that they get what they need to be successful and to be their best selves in our building.”
Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe praised Harry K for his commitment to feeding Delaware’s children. She also recognized the team at the CEB for understanding that many Delaware schoolchildren and their families need additional services to succeed.
“Today’s event shows that it takes all of us working together in order to meet the nutritional needs of our state’s most-vulnerable population – our children,” she said. “One in five Delaware children are food insecure. They say it takes a village to raise a child. All of us – parents, teachers, administrators, nonprofits, government, faith-based and business – must work together to ensure that today’s little ones grow up to be productive members of society.”
To close out the morning, families who utilize the pantry presented Harry with a hand signed frame thanking him for his generosity.