The Food Bank of Delaware new 71,000-square-foot Milford Branch was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by the employee who had worked there the longest.
Delaware dignitaries looked on as Frank Coverdale cut the ribbon as dignitaries watched during a brisk Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The ceremony capped a nearly 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,” said Steve Thompson, chairman of the Food Bank board. “Most importantly, the ability to open this facility that will really change lives and transform lives in southern part of the state.”
Thompson thanked the many state and local officials, dignitaries and others in attendance.
“I never met Dr. King, but I believe one of his favorite scripture verses was actually Matthew 25,” Sen. Tom Carper. “’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.”
Carper said he and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who was unable to attend because of the recent death of her father, helped provide $7 million in federal funds for the project.
“We have a moral responsibility to do that. We have, I think, spiritual responsibility to do that,” he said. “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.”
Food Bank CEO: This means hope
Delaware Food Bank CEO Cathy Kanefsky thanked all the donors who made the new building possible, which makes it possible to serve others with with respect and dignity.
“This building symbolizes hope for so many,” she said. “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.”
Cutting the ribbon was cool, she said.
“But tomorrow, we’re going to open the doors and people are going to walk through here and get food,” Kanefsky said. “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.”
The front walkway into the building will contain a pathway they called Building Hope with personalized bricks sold for $500 to raise money. 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 organization” she said. “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.
State Sen. Dave Wilson said he was thrilled to be at the expressed he was thrilled to be at the Food Bank ribbon cutting. It took six to 10 legislators to help make the project happen, he said.
“I can’t think of a senator or representative that I didn’t approach and ask for support that didn’t come forward,” he said. “So today I’m honored to be here to be a part of this, but we’re not done.”
The new facility expanded cold storage and warehouse space to distribute more than 3.7 million pounds of fresh foods and 6 million pounds of nonperishable food.
It will include 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
The building adds classroom and hands-on training space for workforce development programs in culinary and warehousing/logistics as well as space to plant the 3.5-acre garden.
A new site café will provide employment opportunities to graduates of the Food Bank’s culinary training program, while offering a place for members of the public to buy breakfast and lunch.
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