Food Bank of Delaware celebrates 40th anniversary
The Food Bank of Delaware reflected on four decades of helping battle hunger in the First State Friday.
From humble beginnings in the basement of the Northeast State Service Center to its current 80,000 square foot facility, the Food Bank of Delaware continues to grow to meet the needs of food insecure Delawareans.
The organization started out as a food closet study to improve the Westminster Presbyterian Church’s hunger relief efforts back in the late 1970’s
And Founder Retha Fisher says the Food Bank consistently adapted to meet the needs of Delawareans.
“So in 40 years we’ve made five moves due to growth," she said. "And now we’re in this state of the art food bank, isn’t it wonderful?”
Fisher says she was initially told Delaware was too small to need a Food Bank, and people could go to Pennsylvania or Maryland instead.
Now it distributes food to over 120,000 Delawareans every year, and even more last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Bank spokesperson Kim Turner says that includes changing to meet the evolving community demands.
“The main mission in the beginning and for most of the years was distributing food which is still core to what we do but we have workforce development where we train adults for careers in food service and warehousing and logistics," Turner said. "So we’re more than just an organization that distributes food — we now have a five acre farm where we grow our own food so we’ve really evolved over the years into what we are today.”
Turner says the COVID-19 pandemic really put the organization into overdrive delivering food to people who need it.
She started at the Food Bank back in 2008, during the Great Recession and says that period doesn’t compare to the amount of people experiencing food insecurity because of the pandemic.
The Food Bank distributed over 18 million pounds of food to Delawareans since last March - double what it would in a typical year.
New Castle County executive Matt Meyer says in the past, budget constraints limited what the county could give the organization.
But he plans to do more with the help of additional COVID relief funding to help the Food Bank end hunger in Delaware.