Sweet success: Food rescue links producers to people in need

August 4, 2020

Like many Food Bank of Delaware programs, a food rescue initiative we call Sister Share is a win-win for everyone involved. Here’s how it works, explains our Food Sourcing Manager Ed Matarese: a member agency is assigned a local food outlet, typically a grocery store, and agrees to pick up and distribute donated products directly to people it serves.

“It reduces food waste, and it helps folks and helps us too,” said Matarese. “We don’t have to send trucks, and it keeps food in the community. It reduces the Food Bank’s expenses, and it’s good for the stores. It works for everybody.”

Sister Share is a Feeding America program; the Food Bank of Delaware sends monthly reports on the amount of product per agency to Feeding America; donors also receive a receipt. A non-profit organization, Feeding America is the country’s largest hunger-relief agency, supporting food banks nationwide.

Calvary Church in Dover is one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s 25-30 partner agencies statewide participating in Sister Share.  Margaret Young manages the church’s benevolence programs; in addition to picking up from Lidl and Food Lion, volunteers are also able to collect weekly – sometimes twice weekly – donations from nearby Fifer Orchards.

Since the growing season has started to peak, Young drives over to Fifer’s to pick up the donations.  “It’s a lovely drive over there,” she adds. Donations may include some baked goods, but are mainly fresh farm-grown fruits and vegetables.

In June, for example, Calvary picked up and distributed 5,308 pounds of food – mostly produce – from Fifer’s.

Fifer’s fresh produce has been a blessing to the people Calvary serves, said Young. “We’re seeing fewer young people or young families. The demographics have changed, and we’re seeing older families, age 45-90.”

Unfortunately, the older residents are receiving very limited SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps), often only $15-16 a month. “But these are people who know how to freeze and manage food,” she adds.

“We call our seniors first. When I’m picking up, someone is back at the church calling. We turn around that same afternoon,” Young says. Volunteers also may deliver to seniors who aren’t able to pick up. “It doesn’t ever go bad. Everything is fresh, and our seniors want to eat well. They know food is the best medicine.”

Depending on the time and product availability, the fresh produce may be distributed through a Food Bank of Delaware mobile pantry at the church or at the state social service center in Dover.

Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs and how you can help.

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