The Food Bank of Delaware and United Way of Delaware kick-off the second annual Delaware Does More campaign by distributing Thanksgiving meal boxes in Wilmington.
Gail Foster of Wilmington established her crucial spot in line three hours before the free food distribution began outside the Kingswood Community Center on Friday morning.
For this unemployed single mother of two, the 30 pound box symbolized survival. “It’s really hard to pay my bills right now,” Foster says, “I’m thankful for being here.”
Foster joined hundreds of others anxiously awaiting the kick-off of Delaware Does More, the second annual winter-long giving campaign. The effort, sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware and United Way of Delaware, aimed to address the increasing number of Delawareans in need of food assistance.
Food Bank President and CEO Patricia Beebe says the number of Delawareans in need has increased by 30 percent since 2008. “When we did the food drive last year, we knew there would be an upswing of people in need,” Beebe says, “but in reality, this year is going to be even worse.”
To combat the growing number of people in need this year, the goal for meal donations was increased to 400,000 pounds, a 100,000 pound jump from last year. It’s a boost that the residents of Northeast Wilmington are thrilled about.
Antonio Jones of Wilmington was unsure how he was going to come up with the money for this year’s Thanksgiving meal.
The only forms of income in his household are the unemployment checks sent to him and his unemployed wife. “There are a lot of cutbacks, a lot of things we had to let go of,” Jones said. One of those cutbacks was on quality of food. He says his family will occasionally eat food from damaged cans bought at a discounted price. “It’s real hard but that’s how we’re making it,” Jones says.
Now, Jones says he is relieved to be bringing home dinner for the holidays. “This box means hope, it’s a blessing,” he says with a smile.
While the Food Bank of Delaware has been flooded with increased demand, Beebe says the organization is still fortunate despite hard times. The amount of food being donated has increased this year, in addition to a growing number of volunteers. However, Beebe says she is also seeing a spike in the number of volunteers in need of assistance this holiday season.
Since the origination of Delaware Does More, more than 1.8 million pounds of food and $377,000 have been collected for Delawareans affected by the economic downturn.
The mobile food pantry will be delivering meal boxes to underserved areas in Delaware throughout the winter season. Find out more information about Delaware Does More.