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Hard Work, Creativity Key to Successful Summer Food Service Program

Delaware youth enjoy fresh fruits during lunch at a Summer Food Service Program site in 2010.  The Food Bank of Delaware dramatically increased participation through hard work and creativity.

Delaware youth enjoy fresh fruits during lunch at a Summer Food Service Program site in 2010. The Food Bank of Delaware dramatically increased participation through hard work and creativity.

Increasing participation in the Summer Food Service Program isn’t always easy.  There are no silver bullets or magic spells.  Being successful also doesn’t require fancy outreach materials that break the bank.  The secret, according to the Food Bank of Delaware, is hard work and creativity.

Hard work helped them increase the number of summer meals served from around 192,000 in 2007 to more than 425,000 in 2010.  Food Bank of Delaware Branch Manager, Crystal Timmons, emphasizes that creative, low-cost ideas get the credit for the dramatic increase in participation.  “We literally went through the phonebook, targeting those low income pockets of poor families that are hidden inside what are otherwise considered very wealthy communities.”

The Food Bank designed and printed out simple and effective flyers targeted to particular groups.   “We had volunteers go door-to-door in low-income areas.  We visited day care centers and civic organizations, and had our greatest success with churches, where we found willing participants with a mission to better serve their local community.”

The Food Bank also took advantage of local media resources—without spending a dime.  “We asked local radio stations to use their Public Service Announcement (PSA) requirement to advertise where summer feeding sites were located.”  They also used local television stations, again at zero cost.  Delaware’s WBAC TV broadcasts a Pentecostal Church service every Sunday.  “They gave us five minutes before the service started one week and we talked about where sites were located and how to help sponsor or host a program.” She said, “The response was so overwhelming that they gave us ten minutes the next week.”

Crystal and the other hard working and creative staff at the Food bank of Delaware are at it again this year.  They don’t have any extra funding or a new formula to increase participation.  “It’s all about the legwork; getting out there and talking to people who need our help at the places they congregate; where they watch and listen and where they live.”

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4 Responses to “Hard Work, Creativity Key to Successful Summer Food Service Program”

  1. Siobhan Glasgow says:

    Has there been any effort to teach the parents of low-income families better ways to shop at the grocery store or healthy meals to cook at home? For instance having a talk at one of the local churches?

  2. Jason Begany says:

    I would like to thank the community for our ability to bring change through communication and hard work. The result is a summer full of more playing, more laughing, and less hunger. So go to your local food bank and keep up the work.
    Peace, Love, End Hunger.

  3. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    Hi Siobhan – Thanks for your comment! Our SNAP-Ed connection recipe finder is a database of recipes that helps teach people how to manage their resources including ingredients, nutrition and available preparation time.

    Also, USDA’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has some resources available on their website that can help people make a difference in the lives of people in your community who are at risk to go hungry.

    I hope this helps!

  4. DelawareMimi says:

    Do you know if Sussex County, DE sites for Summer 2011?

    Thank you.

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