“We’re still in a period of recovering:” New grant funding supports healthcare/food assistance programs serving rural communities


DELAWARE – “The COVID-19 pandemic really brought to light something we already know at the Food Bank, which is so our friends and neighbors are food insecure,” Delaware Food Bank Director of External Affairs Chad Robinson said.

The USDA now stepping in with a possible solution, providing support in the form of dollars to organizations through its Emergency Rural Health Care Program.

The program is awarding $6 million to 14 projects across Maryland and Delaware.

The grant funding will be used to assist non-profits like the Food Bank of Delaware to continue serving those most vulnerable in the first state. “Food assistance programs were taxed. Their food stocks were very low, and their equipment was overtaxed,” USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland David Baker said.

“Last fiscal year, we did about 16.5 million pounds of distribution statewide. So about 50% of that, around 8 million pounds, were in Kent and Sussex counties,” Robinson said.

The $1 million going to the Food Bank will be used to purchase food for the Milford facility for nearly 3 years to help offset some costs as they aren’t seeing the same volume of donations. “That’s something that we continue to work on too is how can we get food donations up. We’re still in a period of recovering from that from the pandemic,” Robinson said.

The funds also come at a time where Robinson says the need for their services is as high as it’s ever been before. “The high-cost food that folks are seeing in the store and that you see when you go to the grocery store are the same costs that we’re seeing for food that we’re having to purchase,” Robinson said.

“We definitely want to see that these organizations continue in operations. That’s very important to us and to our communities,” Baker said.

The Food Bank of Delaware says that their Milford facility now operates at a 163% capacity, and they anticipate that level of service and need will grow as things like inflation continue to rise food costs.

The food bank also tells us their new facility in Milford will be a big help, as the $34 million project will serve citizens of Kent and Sussex counties and fulfill a growing need down state.

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