It’s been six months since I started as president and CEO at the Food Bank of Delaware. What an incredibly humbling and rewarding six months it’s been so far. From the generosity of our amazing donors and volunteers, to the grit and determination shown by the families we serve, I am so grateful to be in this position to truly give back.
When I considered applying for this new challenge, I had reservations. I have never been food-insecure. I’ve always served nonprofit missions that impacted me personally and were very dear to my heart. My twin sons, now 30, were born four months early with a host of medical challenges. Several years later, they were both diagnosed with autism. Over the past several years, we’ve weathered behavioral challenges, epilepsy and pure devastation when one of our twins had a stroke. I shared my reservations with a professional mentor, and he encouraged me to apply for the position.
“Take the word ‘food’ away from food insecurity,” he said. “You tell me the day you know what the next day would bring.”
Like so many of the families served by the Food Bank of Delaware, I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning not knowing what the day holds. I hope my own personal story can give our neighbors hope and inspire our team to go out and give their best each day for the people we serve.
While I may be new, the Food Bank of Delaware has been providing critical emergency services to our community for 40 years. Our leadership team has a combined 64 years of experience with the organization. For so many members of the team, providing our community with hope through nourishment is their calling.
As many of us prepare to give thanks surrounded by family and friends, I am reminded that far too many in our community may not have that same good fortune.
In October alone, we had more than 2,000 visits to our on-site Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford. Food insecurity is very real for thousands of our neighbors.
Low wages and a high cost of living make emergency food pantries a regular source of food for many in our community. And for those who are homebound, find themselves without support systems or are unable to work — the challenges are insurmountable at times.
The outpouring of support from Delawareans throughout the pandemic has been truly humbling. So many have stepped forward to help their neighbors in need.
“Better together” became a popular slogan during the pandemic, and I truly believe it. Over the course of the last 18 months, we have seen the power of what we can do when we all come together. Fighting hunger and food insecurity is up to all of us, and we know our communities are better when we partner and collaborate.
I know that — with your help — we can continue the important work we do each and every day at the Food Bank of Delaware. Our success would not be possible without you.
As we head into a second holiday season still in the midst of this pandemic, it is my hope that we embrace the sentiment of neighbor helping neighbor. My team and I at the Food Bank of Delaware have borne witness to the generosity that exists in our community. I know that, together, we can combat the struggles that exist in our community. Together, we can ensure that there is a light in the tunnel for our neighbors. Together, we can help level the playing field by giving everyone an opportunity for a seat at the table. Together, we can bring hope. In this season of giving, let us bring the light of hope into our communities once again and lift up our state of friends and neighbors.
Cathy Kanefsky is president and CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware. She lives in Middletown.