The Food Bank of Delaware is meeting the growing need for food assistance in the state by constructing a new 67,000-square-foot facility in Milford. This project, which is more than four times larger than the current building, will serve Kent and Sussex counties, where food distribution has surged by 79% over the past five years.
Addressing the Increasing Demand
With the rise in food distribution, the Food Bank faced the challenge of finding storage space. Some of the food was being sent to their Glasgow facility, leaving less room for distribution in New Castle County. Additionally, the organization needed more space for volunteers to sort and pack the growing amount of items. To meet these needs, the Food Bank had to rent an additional building.
Expanding Operations on a Big Scale
Thanks to generous donations, grants, and government support, the Food Bank of Delaware is now able to expand its operations in Milford significantly. The new facility, located on Delaware Veterans Boulevard, will include job training classrooms, a café open to the public, and a 3.5-acre garden. This expansion project, estimated to cost $34 million, is expected to be completed this fall.
Meeting the High Demand for Food in Delaware
Despite the ending of many pandemic-era assistance programs, the number of people struggling to afford food continues to rise in Delaware. In fiscal year 2022 alone, the Food Bank distributed approximately 16.5 million pounds of food from its Newark and Milford locations, up from 8.6 million pounds in fiscal year 2019. The new facility will provide space to store and distribute an estimated 9.7 million additional pounds of food, including a significant increase in fresh produce due to the new refrigerated space.
Addressing the Challenges
The Food Bank of Delaware has been faced with challenges such as a decrease in food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a higher demand from the community. In response, they have purchased more food than ever before to meet the increased need. Population growth, the end of extra SNAP assistance, and surging inflation have all contributed to the rise in the demand for food assistance.
Beyond Food Storage: A Multi-Purpose Facility
The new warehouse in Milford will not only address the need for food storage but also provide other vital resources to the community. The facility will have nine loading bays and two-story storage space for fresh and nonperishable foods. Additionally, the property will include a classroom and hands-on training space for culinary arts and warehouse logistics programs. The café, open to the public for breakfast and lunch, will provide employment and training opportunities to program graduates. The facility will also feature a pantry area resembling a grocery store, a sorting and packing area for volunteers, offices for staff, and a 3.5-acre garden with greenhouses, an orchard, and a packing barn. This garden will offer volunteer opportunities, education for students, and a peaceful outdoor space for nearby facilities such as the Delaware Veterans Home and the Boys & Girls Club.
In conclusion, the Food Bank of Delaware’s expansion in Milford represents hope for a better tomorrow for those in need. With a larger facility, the organization can store and distribute even more food to address the increasing demand in Kent and Sussex counties. Additionally, the new warehouse will provide valuable resources and training opportunities to help individuals and families achieve long-term economic stability. Through the construction of this new facility, the Food Bank of Delaware continues to make a significant impact in the community.