These pantries need stocking during the holiday season

Between parties, office treats, and family feasts, it’s easy to over-indulge during the holidays. But, unfortunately, in this season of abundance, many Delawareans don’t have enough to eat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 37.2 million Americans—including 11.2 million children—are hungry. In Delaware, there are 117,320 residents facing food insecurity—up from 114,370 in 2018, reports the Food Bank of Delaware. The rate for children is 17 percent.

Donating food is one way to address the problem. However, charitable organizations often have different rules when it comes to what they will and will not accept. Here is a list of charities that accept food donations and what they require. Their needs may change, so call to confirm.

Food Bank of Delaware

From its two warehouses, the Food Bank distributes some 8.6 million pounds of food to 536 programs focused on relieving hunger, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters. The Food Bank accepts perishable foods, including fruit and frozen meat, and nonperishable items. Note: The food must be in a labeled, sealed package.

The organization will take prepared food if it’s made in a kitchen that’s regularly inspected by the health department. Buffet items, however, are not accepted, nor are foods that were prepared in a home kitchen for a party. It also does not take candy, lollipops, canned or bottled soda, chocolate bars or pieces, gum and soft candy (such as marshmallows), caramels, taffy, licorice, or gummy items.

At this time of year, the typical holiday fare is welcome – e.g., frozen turkeys, canned peas and green beans, gravy, and instant mashed potatoes. Most of the year, urgently needed foods include peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, shelf-stable milk, and hot and cold cereals.

Newark Branch
222 Lake Dr., Newark | 292-1305

Milford Branch
1040 Mattlind Way, Milford | 424-3301

Kennett Area Community Service

The organization’s Food Cupboard accepts donations during regular office hours. In general, the cupboard needs canned fruits and vegetables, bagged fresh fruit and vegetables, canned proteins or dried beans, grains—such as rice—and single-serve food items.

136 W. Cedar St., Kennett Square, Pa.
610-925-3556 |

Ministry of Caring

In 2018, the Ministry of Caring served 161,627 meals at its three Emmanuel Dining Room locations. This year, the program is serving up to 600 people a day. The charity relies on donations of all kinds. Even a casserole or a lasagna can be carved into pieces for guests to take home. (The dining room does not serve dinner.) Hot dogs and hamburgers come in handy if the demand for a meal exceeds the original supply.

The Ministry of Caring was instrumental in the creation of the law that exempts food donators from liability. Any person, business, or institution making a good faith donation of prepared or leftover perishable food shall not be liable if the food appears fit for human consumption at the time it’s donated to a charity serving free meals to the needy public.

The primary need is for family-sized containers of vegetables, stew, pasta, spaghetti sauce, fruit, cereal and beans. Large sizes of foods such as stuffing and instant mashed potatoes are particularly welcome during the holidays.

Contact Maureene “ReeNee” LaFate, program director
Emmanuel Dining Room
121 N. Jackson St., Wilmington
652-3228 |

Sunday Breakfast Mission

The holidays are a busy time for the SBM. On Thanksgiving, volunteers serve more than 700 and prepare food boxes for 1,700 families. On Christmas morning, they provide breakfast with all the trimmings for guests and residents. On any given evening, up to 200 come for the community meal. Overnight guests get breakfast before they leave. In addition to daily meals, up to 70 families can call once a month to request food for their homes.

SBM’s annual food drive runs until the end of the year. WSFS Bank locations are accepting canned and boxed goods, including cereal, vegetables, pasta, peanut butter and jelly, soup, tuna and instant potatoes. (Check the expiration date and discard any expired items.) Or, you can drop off food to the Sunday Breakfast Mission.

110 N. Poplar St., Wilmington
652-8314 x 114 |

Pam George
Pam George has been writing about the Delaware dining scene for more than 15 years. She also writes on travel, health, business and history. In addition to Delaware newspapers and magazines, she’s been published in Men’s Health, Fortune, USA Today and US Airways Magazine. She’s the author of “Shipwrecks of the Delaware Coast: Tales of Pirates, Squalls and Treasure,” “Landmarks & Legacies: Exploring Historic Delaware,” and “First State Plates: Iconic Delaware Restaurants and Recipes.” She lives in Wilmington and Lewes.

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