148 in the 148th: Helping Food Bank of Delaware

The following opinion piece appeared in the January 29th edition of the (Wilmington) News Journal.

By Reps. Ed Osienski and Lyndon Yearick

Every year, the Food Bank of Delaware does tremendous work soliciting donations and distributing millions of pounds of food to Delawareans in need. We are fortunate to have such an organization in our state, but the Food Bank needs help from all of us.

Historically, donations to the Food Bank fall to their lowest levels after the holiday season, during the months of January, February and March. These are also the coldest months of the year, when people in need call on organizations like the Food Bank of Delaware the most. When you couple this greater demand with fewer donations, it presents a real challenge for the Food Bank.

That’s why we have partnered together in a bipartisan effort to launch “148 in the 148th,” a drive with the goal of the 148th Delaware General Assembly raising 148,000 pounds of food or $148,000 during these months. We already have the support of the Delaware Food Industry Council and Delaware Technical Community College, which is incorporating this drive as part of its community service outreach efforts.

Raising 74 tons of food is no small task, and my fellow legislators are currently reaching out to local organizations – Lions Clubs, Boy Scout troops, religious institutions, and the like. – to enlist their assistance in collecting food for the effort. We will need everyone’s help to meet this goal, and we are confident that Delawareans up and down the state will take up the cause.

A couple years ago, one of us (Rep. Osienski) and Sen. Townsend took the SNAP Challenge. For one week, we subsisted on only the food we could buy with funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. We did it to call attention to the program itself and the serious issue of hunger in Delaware. Approximately 150,000 Delawareans are enrolled in SNAP. That number has tripled from a decade ago.

Knowing that so many of our friends and neighbors are in need throughout the state, we as elected officials ask that you please join us in this effort by collecting food and donating it to the Food Bank. Whether you do so as part of a community or civic organization or just donate on your own, every little bit we collect during these months will make a huge difference in our neighbors’ lives.

Although this effort involves Democrats and Republicans, this isn’t a friendly competition. Senators Townsend, a Democrat, and Gary Simpson, a Republican, also are partnering with in the state Senate. We are all working together as one General Assembly to reach our goal.

If you are with a group that would like to organize a food drive and collect goods, you can coordinate in Kent and Sussex Counties with Melissa Holochwost at MHolochwost@fbd.org or (302) 424-3301 ext. 101. For New Castle County, please contact Angel Diaz at ADiaz@fbd.org or (302) 292-1305 ext. 260.

Ed Osienski represents the 24th District in the House of Representatives. Lyndon Yearick represents the 34th District in the House of Representatives.