Food Bank Expansion Ahead of Schedule

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food bankBy Terry Rogers

The expansion project at the Milford location of the Delaware Food Bank is well ahead of schedule, according to Kim Turner, Communications Director of the Food Bank.

“The warm winter and lack of snow helped us this year,” Turner said. “We were originally planning to have construction completed in September, but it appears that it should be completed by June.” According to Turner, installation of the roof, all framing and block work are completed. Construction continues inside the building.

The expansion will increase the location by 8000 square feet, almost doubling the size of the Milford center. Groundbreaking on the expansion was held in September, and Turner is excited at the progress that has been made in such a short time. The new section will house an industrial kitchen for use by the Food Bank Culinary School, as well as a new volunteer area.

“The new volunteer area is desperately needed so that our volunteers can work in adequate space and not have to stand in the hallways of our warehouse in the extreme heat or cold,” Turner explained. Completing the project ahead of schedule could mean the first culinary class at the facility could be held in the fall.

The Food Bank Culinary School offers job training to unemployed and under-employed individuals through a 14-week program. Twelve weeks of the program include hands-on training in safe food handling and life skills. The program also includes training in basic and high-end cooking skills. The final two weeks of the program include internships at a restaurant, catering or food service company.

Currently, the Food Bank only offers a culinary school at their Newark location, and since its inception, more than 250 students have graduated, according to Sonia Murrey, Culinary School Program Manager with the Food Bank.

“Students from the Newark campus have found employment at Valley Forge Casino in King of Prussia, Delaware Park, Jake’s Wayback Burgers, the Sheraton, Domaine Hudson and many other locations throughout the state,” Ms. Murrey reported.

The Newark campus has a graduation rate of 92 percent, and 61 percent of graduates have found employment after graduation. The Milford location will expand this program and bring highly-qualified candidates for jobs not only in the Milford area, but in surrounding areas as well. In addition to providing job skills to those who need them, the expansion will create at least two additional positions at the Milford location. The Food Bank plans to hire a program director, whose duties will include recruiting students for the Culinary School, and a chef instructor for the school.

Chad Robinson, Branch Director of the Milford location, says the expansion would not be possible without the generous individuals, corporations and foundations who have donated to get this project off the ground. He also credits the outstanding work of Richard Y. Johnson and the architects for working diligently to get the expansion completed.

“The expansion will be an amazing addition to the active site we already have,” said Mr. Robinson. “This will allow us to continue our efforts to alleviate hunger statewide by providing our Milford volunteers the space they need to help feed those in Milford and surrounding areas.”