Milford Food Bank location to construct new building

Terry Rogers Delaware Nonprofits, Headlines

President and CEO Cathy Kanefsky, and Board Chairman, Andy Larmore, hold the the official agreement of sale for land in Independence Commons where the Food Bank of Delaware plans to construct a new facility and a community garden

The Food Bank of Delaware received approval from Milford City Council to construct a new building on a lot they purchased from the city in Independence Commons. The organization came before council to request that the property, a vacant lot in the business park, be rezoned for charitable and philanthropic use.

“We are excited to share our vision for the property at Independence Commons,” Chad Robinson, Community Relations Director at the Food Bank of Delaware, said. “We are the only organization with the logistics, warehouse and resources to move emergency food around the state. Before the pandemic, there were 120,000 people in Delaware struggling with food insecurity and every day, we come to work to try to fight back against food insecurity.”

The Food Bank plans to build a 60,000-square-foot facility as well as create a community and educational garden on the lot. The buildings will be constructed in three phases with the first phase consisting of the construction of a 3,000-square-foot building that will house the Healthy Pantry. The building is designed so that vehicle traffic will not back up out of the parking lot. Staff parking will be in the back but facing the building so headlights will not disturb the Delaware Veteran’s Home residents next door.

“We have placed the loading docks on the other side of the building,” Robinson said. “This way it is unlikely that the veterans will be disturbed by the trucks backing in. We plan to put the community garden toward the front and plant vegetative barriers. We have invited the veterans to enjoy the garden and will add handicap access so they can easily get there. This will be an open community garden, not like the one at the Armory where everyone has a particular plot.”

Councilman Katrina Wilson asked for clarification about the difference between the two community gardens.

“Our intention is to open the community and educational garden to our neighbors,” Robinson said. “It is an open space particularly for the veterans. We look forward to collaborating with the Veterans Home, Delaware Hospice Center and the Boys & Girls Club, helping the community learn where food comes from and how to grow food in small spaces. This will be similar to our Newark location but on a smaller scale. What is next to the Armory is where people rent or purchase plots and then handle the planting and weeding. This would not be that type of space.”

The second and third phase of the project are still in the planning stages. Currently, the Food Bank offers training in the culinary field using a commercial kitchen in their current location. Robinson explained that they are also planning a logistics program where individuals would receive training in logistics, inventory control, warehousing and more.

“They will get forklift and other types of certification related to that side of industry,” Robinson said. “The goal is to help them get jobs and move into self-sufficiency. We have about 56 full-time employees statewide and about 20 in the Milford location.”

Charles Baldwin, the Wilmington Chairman of the Division of Veteran’s Affairs, commended the Food Bank for their efforts in creating a plan with their neighbors in mind.

“We have met several times with the Food Bank, the Mayor, Rob Pierce and we’ve met with our families,” Baldwin said. “We cannot think of a better partner for that piece of property. They have done an excellent job of meeting our requests in order to manage our veterans with PTSD and other things. I don’t think you will hear too much of an uproar from us. All things were addressed by the folks at the Food Bank, and we are big supporters of their plan.”

Council approved the request with a vote of seven to zero.

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