Statewide, the Food Bank of Delaware runs several programs that approach food access from different perspectives. Working with federal grants as well as state and local governments, the Food Bank of Delaware demonstrates how access to healthy food programs can work across all levels of government in order to help all Delaware residents access healthy food.
Childhood Nutrition Program
The Food Bank runs several programs to address children’s nutrition year round. Throughout the school year, services are primarily delivered through the After-School Nutrition Program. For students in low- income areas, this program provides meals and snacks alongside educational activities after school. Knowing that children need access to healthy food during times when they are not in school such as weekends and holidays, the Food Bank established the Backpack Program. This program fills backpacks with healthy foods including both meal and snack items. During the 2017–18 school year, almost 6,000 Delaware children received these nutritiously stocked backpacks during each weekend and holiday.
To address food nutrition and security during the summer months, the Food Bank administers the Summer Nutrition Program, which works with community sites to provide free, healthy meals to children throughout the summer. Additional mobile meals programs, especially within participating school districts, were launched in the summer of 2018 and aim to reach more rural children. Families can call “2-1-1” or text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 to find summer meal sites in Delaware.
SNAP and WIC Related Programs
The Food Bank of Delaware provides additional assistance specifically for those who qualify for SNAP and WIC supplements. For those who may qualify for SNAP assistance, the Food Bank offers application assistance during which trained professionals help people fill out the application correctly and provide guidance through the process even after the application has been submitted. Additionally, the Food Bank provides WIC recipients with WIC food packages worth $60–$135 each month. These packages are prepared with nutritious foods including fresh produce, whole grain bread, and milk.
The Food Bank designs and provides educational programs that specifically address healthy eating as a SNAP or WIC participant. Both SNAP and WIC educational outreach programs emphasize making healthy food choices with a limited budget and learning to prepare meals with healthy foods. These programs are administered at a variety of locations beyond the food bank itself including community centers, farmers’ markets, senior centers, and other locations that wish to help residents make healthy food choices. While educational programming at these locations use recipe cards, food demonstrations, and food samples to help directly educate beneficiaries, the Food Bank also provides online cooking videos to make sure that those who cannot attend educational events still have access to information about cooking healthy food on a budget. WIC-focused outreach events demonstrate cooking methods and provide recipes for each of the foods in the WIC food package to help ensure that these foods are used in nutritious and filling ways.
While the Food Bank operates in many locations throughout the state, they are aware of the many transportation barriers their clients may face. To ensure that Delawareans have access to healthy food assistance regardless of their transportation status, the Food Bank runs the Kraft Mobile Pantry. From New Castle to Sussex, the mobile program provides a variety of nutritious foods including fresh produce to those in need. In addition to helping as many as 50 households access healthy food each day, the pantry provides education on “topics including nutrition, financial literacy, healthcare, and more.” The mobile pantry is always looking for sites to act as temporary distribution points, so if your community has a need, reach out to the food bank to find out how you can help.
Food-Related Workforce Development Programs
Like several other programs in Delaware, the Food Bank combines workforce development with access to healthy food. Economic security plays an essential role in food security, so these programs can help improve participants’ access to healthy food in the long term. The Food Bank runs five programs that fall into three different categories:
- Food Service: Including the Culinary School, Manage First Program, and ServSafe Certification, initiatives in this category provide participants with skills and experience that prepare them for jobs in the food service industry. The food bank provides financial assistance to those who need it, so that these programs are affordable for those who are working to become more economically secure.
- Warehousing: The L.O.G.I.C. program provides participants with training that helps them secure jobs in the warehouse industry by training them to use equipment and understand warehouse operation logistics. The program even offers two certifications: OSHA-10 General Industry Certificate and the Forklift Certificate.
- Agriculture: The newest of the Food Bank’s workforce development programs, F.A.S.T. consists of a 14-week training period during which participants engage in hands on work experience and receive training in a variety of agricultural topics like crop management, food safety, and farm business. Additionally, participants receive an hour of life skills training daily.