Food Bank of Delaware officially opens new facility in Milford

Terry RogersCharity, Culture, Delaware Nonprofits, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

The Food Bank of Delaware held a ribbon cutting for their new building in Independence Commons

The Food Bank of Delaware marked the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service holiday by officially cutting the ribbon on its new 70,000-square-foot facility in Milford this morning. The ceremony culminated an almost three-year project to build a new facility to enhance services to residents of Kent and Sussex counties.

“It’s hard to believe we were here just a little over a year ago for our official groundbreaking ceremony and how far we’ve come. It’s incredible to watch this project come to life,” Steve Thompson, Chairman of the Board for the Food Bank, said. “Most importantly, the ability to open this facility that will really change lives and transform lives in southern part of the state. Changing lives would not have been possible without all of you, our generous donors, our volunteers, the partners that we work with every day advocates, friends and elected officials that share our vision.”

Thompson thanked the many state and local officials, dignitaries and others in attendance on the cold, blustery day. Senator Tom Carper spoke, telling a story about a young boy in Alaska whose mother continually sent him outside to play until the boy told his mother he was freezing.

“I know you are all freezing today but are here to celebrate this glorious, glorious day. I just come from celebrating this day with some of our other elected officials as well, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Senator Carper said. “I never met Dr. King, but I believe one of his favorite scripture verses was actually Matthew 25. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.’ And everybody here is a part of this effort. Raising the money to build this building to provide the staff and the support”

Senator Carper explained that his “talking points” stated that he and his colleague, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, who was unable to attend the ribbon cutting as she was morning the loss of her father, provided $7 million toward the project. He explained they supported the project for many different reasons.

“The number of reasons why we make sure that people have food to eat is we have a moral responsibility to do that. We have, I think, spiritual responsibility to do that. There are other reasons as well. We want kids to have the benefit of nutritious foods that when they go to school, they’ll be able to concentrate. And these students will someday support us to make sure that our workforce is healthy and strong. We want to make sure for all kinds of reasons that folks don’t have to go into hospital, they have good healthful, nutritious food to help them keep well. There’s all kinds of reasons, all kinds of reasons why we do this,” Senator Carper said. “When I travel around the country, I get to talk to a lot of people and one of the things I asked people religiously is “What gives you joy in your life.” I ask that a lot. What makes you happy? And what I hear more often than not is I like helping people and I don’t know if you’re the same but when I write a check to Delaware Food Bank and later on get a thank you note makes me happy. My wife says “why do you send money to all those folks?” Because well it makes me happy but it makes them happy and there’s a lot of other reasons to do it as well.”

Delaware Food Bank CEO Cathy Kanefsky thanked all the donors who made the new building possible.

“This facility represents so much more than just a building it’s our collective commitment to service to others with respect and dignity. This building symbolizes hope for so many. Hope for the working family who is trying so hard to make ends meet but needs a little extra support. Hope for senior citizen living off his Social Security check who oftentimes has to choose between food and medicine and hope for those looking for a second chance. I stand before you today with immense pride. I’ve got so much gratitude and so much excitement for tomorrow. Today is so cool. But tomorrow, we’re going to open the doors and people are going to walk through here and get food,” Kanefsky said. “Think about the lives that will change. We do so much more than provide food. We provide hope for a better tomorrow. This building is a testament to that vision. It will allow us not only to distribute food but to help our neighbors for long term economic stability through job skills training,, financial coaching and more.”

Kanefsky explained that the front walkway into the building would contain a pathway they called Building Hope with personalized bricks sold for $500 to continue raising funds. She thanked the agricultural community who had helped the Food Bank create a community garden on the property.

“To all of our new neighbors in the independence Commons Business Park especially the Greater Milford Boys and Girls Club, the Delaware Veterans Home and Delaware Hospice. We are so excited about the possibility of providing volunteer opportunities for students, for families in partnership with our neighboring organizations. Independence Commons will be a hub of nonprofit collaboration. Thanks to the increased capacity and enhanced resources, we can expand our outreach, reduce food insecurity and create pathway to a brighter, more sustainable future for all as we prepare to open these doors to our new home,” Kanefsky said. “Let this day be a symbol of renewed commitment, collaboration, and hope is a testament to what we can achieve when we come together with purpose and passion.”

State Senator Dave Wilson expressed he was thrilled to be in attendance at such a momentous occasion. He commented that he was not there to take credit for his own actions, but to support the many people in the community who brought the building to life.

“I don’t have a formal speech I didn’t come prepared to give a speech I came to Cathy and she’s just incredible.. Cathy made this happen and the board of directors and I’m not here today to take credit for anything. I want y’all to know that it took six to 10 legislators to make this happen,” Senator Wilson said. “Senator Postles and I serve on bond committee and it took everybody. It was teamwork. And I can’t think of a senator or representative that I didn’t approach and ask for support that didn’t come forward. So today I’m honored to be here to be a part of this, but we’re not done.”

After the speeches, Frank Coverdale, the longest tenured employee of the Food Bank cut the ribbon as dignitaries looked on.

The new Food Bank facility features expanded cold storage and warehouse space to distribute upwards of 3.7 million pounds of fresh foods and six million pounds of nonperishable food as well as a Healthy Pantry Center to directly serve those in need of food assistance. The pantry is set up like a mini grocery store so families can select the foods best suited for their households. In addition, there is a volunteer room where volunteers can sort and pack donations, create meal boxes and bags, and more. Classroom and hands-on training space for workforce development programs in culinary and warehousing/logistics as well as space to plant a 3.5-acre garden to grow fresh foods for the community are also features of the new building. Finally, an on-site café to provide employment opportunities to graduates of the culinary training program, while offering a place for members of the public to buy breakfast and lunch.

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