“It’s a job where your only limitation is being able to think up an idea, make sure it’s on mission and figure out how to pay for it.”
Food Bank of Delaware
Some call the Food Bank of Delaware a maverick organization. That’s because the statewide Food Bank offers more than the typical programs one might expect. Its mission includes not only providing nutritious food to Delawareans in need, but also facilitating long-term solutions to the problems of hunger and poverty through community education and advocacy.
Among the Food Bank’s unique and effective programs are backpack and school pantry programs that promote child nutrition, a mobile pantry that goes into neighborhoods and educates while it distributes food, and a Coalition to End Hunger that this year held its first Ending Hunger Conference. The Food Bank of Delaware is also the only food bank in the country with not one, but two culinary schools that train unemployed and underemployed individuals for jobs in the food service industry. President and CEO Patricia Beebe believes the schools are especially important, because “the main reason people need food is that they don’t have jobs.”
A statewide leader in the nonprofit space, Beebe is driving the Food Bank’s success. When her family moved to the area more than 15 years ago, she seized the opportunity to lead the organization. Beebe calls it the best job she’s ever had, explaining that “it’s a job where your only limitation is being able to think up an idea, make sure it’s on mission and figure out how to pay for it.” Also key to the Food Bank’s success is its robust volunteer program. Volunteers put in hours equivalent to 28.5 full-time staff members, with Bank of America employees accounting for three of those positions.
Bank of America has been a partner to the Food Bank of Delaware dating back more than 20 years through predecessor institutions. Patrick Kelly, senior vice president of national community development services, sits on the Food Bank’s board and is currently heading up its strategic planning efforts. Community Relations Manager April Birmingham is an active member of the Coalition to End Hunger and served as a panelist at its most recent conference with Chip Rossi, Market President for Delaware. Bank of America also provided critical funding for the Food Bank’s mobile pantry, which Beebe calls a “very impactful way of addressing hunger issues.”
Further solidifying their partnership, the Food Bank of Delaware switched all of their banking over to Bank of America a little over a year ago. “They’re just a real honest, forthright contributing partner,” said Beebe. The feeling is mutual, according to Birmingham, who called the Food Bank a strong local partner. With Bank of America by its side, the Food Bank of Delaware’s work and reach will continue to expand.