Food bank of Delaware, Perdue Farms announce ‘Drive Out Hunger’ matching grant challenge

MILFORD – With the community in their lane, the Food Bank of Delaware and the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation hope to drive out hunger.

The pair announced a new challenge Thursday morning as the foundation, the “charitable giving arm of Perdue Farms,” presented a “Drive Out Hunger” challenge grant in the amount of $57,500 towards the purchase of a new, refrigerated, 26-foot box truck.

The Food Bank of Delaware, The Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and Perdue Farms have now challenged the community to raise the additional $42,500 needed to purchase the $100,000, according to food bank staff.

Executive Director of the Perdue Foundation Kim Nechay presents a check of $57,500 to Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe towards the Drive Out Hunger challenge and ultimately, the purchase of a new truck. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

“Perdue, since 1990, has donated $16 million to the Food Bank of Delaware. We couldn’t have done it without them. To say that Perdue is a strong partner in what we do is an understatement,” Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe said.

“We know that vehicles, for us, is so important. Our fleet travels more than 450,000 miles each year allowing for the safe transport and delivery of both perishable and nonperishable food to Food Bank of Delaware Partners. It’s really an important part of our operation.”

Without vehicles that operate well, some community members would be without food, she explained.

“Taking these high mileage vehicles off the read, we know, saves us money. But, taking a high mileage vehicle off the road also means we have to add one back,” she said. “Those who drive our vehicles know what a big deal this is. The older trucks are the ones that are costing us more money.”

The last truck added to the Food Bank of Delaware’s fleet was in 2015 thanks to the help of Bank of America.

“We own all of our vehicles requiring significant maintenance and repair budget lines which grow each year as our fleet ages. The maintenance and repair cost for all 25 vehicles exceeded $35,000 last fiscal year. Taking high-mileage vehicles off the road has become a priority as maintenance and repair costs continue to increase each year as the miles and wear and tear continue to mount. We are thankful for Perdue’s support as we work without community to get this new vehicle on the road,” Ms. Beebe said.

Food Bank of Delaware Truck Drivers Kevin Snead of Lewes, Frank Coverdale of Harrington and Donnelle Fountain of Smyrna chat after the Drive Out Hunger challenge announcement. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Nine full-time truck drivers help keep food moving across the state to schools, churches, agencies and other locations for the many who need help. Another six part-time drivers operate vans. In total, the Food Bank of Delaware currently has 108 sets of wheels, primarily cargo vans and 26-foot box trucks.

“We definitely need a new truck because we also struggle when a vehicle breaks down,” Driver Frank Coverdale of Harrington said.

At the top of the list, maintenance needs and break-downs cause scheduling problems, he explained, adding, “Then sometimes, the lift gates break, and it doesn’t go up or down. That’s a mess.”

Melissa Holochwost of Frederica said they try not to let that get them down, though.

“We run them until they won’t run anymore or until the maintenance on the truck costs more than the truck itself,” she said.

With $42,500 needed and in hopes of sweetening the pot for local businesses, “companies that donate more than $5,000 towards the challenge will have their logo prominently display on the new truck,” according to the press release.

“At Perdue, we believe that in a country as rich as ours, no one should go hungry,” Executive Director of the Perdue Foundation Kim Nechay said. “That’s why we’re proud to be a long-time partner in the fight against hunger with the Food Bank of Delaware. We’re proud to support their Drive Out Hunger initiative through a grant form the Foundation and help improve food security for our neighbors in the First State.”

To learn more about the Drive Out Hunger challenge, contact Food Bank of Delaware Development Director Larry Haas at 302-294-0185 or lhaas@fbd.org.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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