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DCF Capital Grant Improves Kitchen for Teach a Person to Fish Society

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A $10,000 grant from the Delaware Community Foundation (DCF) will expand the kitchen of Teach a Person to Fish (TAPTF) Society and enable the organization to better serve its community with an improved industrial oven and more storage space.  

“Sustain Sussex” is the society’s mission, according to TAPTF founder Teresa Ripley. With a network of about 20 volunteers, the society is concentrating on parts of Sussex County where there is a shortage of food pantries by providing meals and teaching others how to use local resources to sustain themselves and their families.  

TAPTF is one of 22 organizations awarded $254,823 from the DCF’s Capital Grants program. The program assists with the acquisition, final-stage design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation, or other capital improvements of facilities, so nonprofits in all three counties can operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Capital Grants support projects that will have a lasting, positive impact on the population or community served by the grantee organization. 

Teresa and Cass Ripley, Coast Guard retirees, started TAPTF in November 2020 when they noticed the impact the COVID-19 pandemic was having on the ability of their church, Unitarian Universalist of Southern Delaware in Lewes, to provide meals to people in need. 

“We saw the effects of the pandemic on supply chains and grocery stores,” Teresa Ripley said. “We were watching the news and seeing the long lines at the food pantries and feeling so heartbroken. We wanted to do something and have a local impact.” 

The couple began supplying Sussex County food pantries with fresh fruits and vegetables from a network of private and community gardens. The food pantries were more than grateful to receive the fruits and vegetables from the society but realized their patrons were not taking or using some of the foods. 

“A few of the pantries would say, ‘Our clients won’t take the eggplant or these canned products,’ and the pantries were trying to figure out a way to make use of all of the food coming in,” Teresa Ripley said. “I made a simple eggplant lasagna dish that I gave back to the pantries, and that’s how it all started.” 

TAPTF made about 600 meals per month in 2022, an increase of 200 meals per month from 2021, said Bridget Sunday, TAPTF communications director. Now, the society delivers meals twice a week to Community Resource Center in Rehoboth Beach, once a week to First Baptist of Seaford and every other week to the Milton Food Pantry. 

TAPTF prepares, makes and stores all its meals at the Ripleys’ residence in Rehoboth. The upgrades to the kitchen started in 2022 with the installation of a larger refrigerator thanks to the DCF’s COVID-19 Strategic Response Community Needs Grants program. The 2023 Capital Grant from the DCF allows the society to increase the amount of kitchen space and storage space, the size of its sink and to replace its old oven with an industrial-sized one.