At the Food Bank of Delaware, we like to say that volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization. While Iva Boardman humbly stresses that she is relatively new to volunteering at the Food Bank’s Newark headquarters, she is the embodiment of someone who volunteers from her heart.
A retired nurse, Mrs. Boardman says she became familiar with the Food Bank’s mission about a decade ago while volunteering at her church’s food closet, a partnership between her suburban church and an inner-city church in Wilmington. At the time, she donated her time and skills to help order food from the Food Bank to stock shelves.
Fast forward to March, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic during which many volunteer opportunities were halted. Mrs. Boardman rediscovered opportunities at the Food Bank. “This has saved my sanity,” she said, explaining that she relished the chance to leave her home several times each week, interact with other people, and to help her community. “For me, it’s been a blessing, a place to go and do whatever needs to be done,” she said. “I would like to continue.”
Mrs. Boardman says she feels safe – as far as sanitary precautions – at the Food Bank. Wes (Chandler, volunteer program manager) and Joe (Certesio, volunteer coordinator) monitor volunteer safety and well-being, observing social distancing guidelines, and encouraging hand washing.
She is also aware that the need for food will not diminish. Unfortunately, according to a new study by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, food insecurity here is expected to increase due to COVID-19.
The study shows that pre-pandemic, in Delaware 121,850 people, including 38,680 children, did not have adequate access to healthy, nutritious food. The new study, released last month, demonstrates that in our state – factoring in projected unemployment – that number is likely to increase by 50,080, including 18,590 children.
As someone who has been retired for nearly 13 years, Mrs. Boardman offers another observation: “One of the things I discovered as a retired person is that I’m so sorry I didn’t start volunteering when I was younger. What really excites me when I go to the Food Bank is that I have seen younger people, children with parents, teens and college students. I think when you develop that mission heart as a young person you carry it with you. Don’t wait until you think you have time. We all have time to do things that we choose to do,” she said.
“It really becomes more of a blessing to the volunteer; the small things we do can help others.”
Last year, the Food Bank had 15.947 visits, or 41,359 donated hours. That’s the equivalent of 20 full-time staff.
Visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com to sign up as volunteer and to learn more about how you can help the Food Bank of Delaware.