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  Archived Posts From: 2011


College Financial Aid – Help & Information

Written on: December 4th, 2011 in EducationGuest Posts

Guest Post from Delaware’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Lillian Lowery

Our mission in the Delaware Department of Education is that every student will graduate from our public schools college or career ready, with the freedom to choose his or her life’s course.  Yet I know paying for some of those desired courses can be a challenge for many students and their families.

That is why it is critical that they have all the help and information they need to access the scholarships, grants, work-study programs, loans and other financial assistance available.

This week, the Delaware Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators will re-launch its annualFinancial Aid Nights,” a statewide program running through March that is designed to provide college-bound students and their families with valuable information and free assistance in applying for financial aid.

Attendees will learn about applying for need-based and merit-based aid as well as federal, state and institutional programs—including grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Financial aid experts also will talk about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, explain how colleges determine financial need and explain the role of the college financial aid office.

This help is needed now more than ever. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the challenge well last week when he spoke at the annual Federal Student Aid conference in Las Vegas:

  • Over the last decade, the net price of college has risen nearly 6 percent a year, after inflation.
  • From 1995 to 2007, the net price of college for full-time undergraduates, adjusted for inflation, rose: 48 percent at for-profit schools, 26 percent at public two-year institutions and 20 percent at public four-year institutions.
  • College seniors with student loans now graduate with an average of more than $25,000 in debt. Fifteen years ago, the figure was closer to $12,500.

But, he reminded the conference attendees, there is help available. In fact, federal support for increased college access has expanded more in the last three years than at any period since the years following the passage of the GI bill. That includes:

  • The federal government now provides half of all undergraduate grant aid — up from a third a decade ago.
  • In the past three years, the number of Pell Grant recipients enrolled in college has increased from 6.2 million to about 9 million. And the value of total grant aid and federal loans per student has increased by about 30 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Changes to the American Opportunity Tax Credit made in 2009 have led to a jump in tax credit and tuition deductions of more than 80 percent per qualified student.
  • The federal government is trying to make applying for assistance easier, as well, by simplifying the FASFA application. This has led to an almost 50 percent increase in FASFA applications since 2008.

If you are a college-bound student or the family member of one, I urge you to attend one of the upcoming Financial Aid Nights and find out more about what help is available. The meeting times and locations are outlined below. I hope to see you there.

  • 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6, Brandywine High School auditorium, 1400 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 479-1609
  • 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, Polytech School District Adult Education auditorium, 823 Walnut Shade Road, Woodside, 697-3257
  • 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, Lake Forest High School, 5407 Killens Pond Road, Felton, 284-9291
  • 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9, Indian River High School auditorium, 29772 Armory Road, Dagsboro, 732-1500
  • 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, Dover High School auditorium, One Pat Lynn Drive, Dover, 672-1553
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18, Caesar Rodney High School lecture recital hall, 239 Old North Road, Camden-Wyoming, 697-3249
  • 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18, Middletown High School, 120 Silver Lake Road, Middletown, 376-4158
  • 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 23, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400
  • 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, Newark High School, 750 E. Delaware Ave., Newark, 631-4700
  • 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400

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Pancreatic Cancer

Written on: November 30th, 2011 in Helping Our Neighbors

Pancreatic Cancer Action NetworkToday is the last day of National Pancreatic Awareness Month, but I hope it we’ll work on raising awareness all year round.  As I look back at November, I want to thank all of the advocates – the family members, patients, and survivors – for sharing their stories. 

I also want to share mine.

I lost one of my best friends and one of the finest people I ever knew to pancreatic cancer. She died almost eight years ago.

Mary and I were college classmates. She grew up in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and was the second of five children.  Her family was very close; they were people of faith and of energy.  They loved each other and the community loved them.

After college, Mary’s career developed from news-writing for the evening news in Philadelphia to working in the helping fields, culminating in her position as head of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children in  New York.  The Commission is part of the International Rescue Committee.

In this role, Mary traveled frequently to some of the most difficult places on earth to advocate and fight for women and children refugees. Mary was truly one of the nicest people I have ever known, but she was also tough as nails when it came to fighting for others.

I think of Mary often and I miss her a lot. She continues to be a great inspiration to me. to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2011, an estimated 44,030 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and approximately 37,660 passed away from the disease.

Please take a moment to learn more about pancreatic cancer, get in touch with the Delaware Chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or sign up to volunteer.

Delaware Volunteers for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness
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Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

Written on: November 19th, 2011 in Guest Posts

We love delicious local, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving meals, so we asked the head of Delaware’s Division of Public Health, Dr.Karyl Rattay, to provide some tips on food safety for the holidays.  You might also enjoy our previous post on local, fresh Thanksgiving options.


Dr. RattayGuest Post from Dr. Karyl Rattay: I am especially thankful for the time spent with family and friends during the holidays. Like many Delawareans, I often travel with my family to share Thanksgiving dinner with relatives and bring some dishes to pass.

fruit saladGood nutrition, food safety, and preventing illness are as important during the holidays as the rest of the year. For our meal, I find that fruit salad is a refreshing, healthful dish that travels well. When transporting a dish, it’s important that cold foods stay cold, and hot foods stay hot. I make sure that we have plenty of ice packs in our cooler for the ride.

cutting boardWhen cooking at home, I like to use several cutting boards and different knives for bread, fruit and vegetables and meat and poultry. This is a system that helps assure that bacteria from one food do not get passed to another. Glass or plastic cutting boards are a good choice since those surfaces do not absorb liquids from foods, which can spread illness.

I’m also a fan of sterilizing utensils, cutting boards and other cooking items in the dishwasher. It really is the best way to clean these items and prevent food-borne illness.

Clean HandsWe all want our loved ones to stay healthy and happy as we share special times. Unfortunately, health professionals have recognized a link between people gathering for the holidays and an increase in influenza and other respiratory illnesses. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot and continue practicing preventive measures like hand washing, using hand sanitizer, and covering coughs and sneezes, at home and while visiting.

Our staff at the Division of Public Health’s  Food Protection Program offer these additional tips for preparing the holiday turkey.

Plan your menu before the holiday:

  • If you plan to buy a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1-2 days prior to cooking and make sure it remains refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • Avoid fresh pre-stuffed turkeys because harmful bacteria can grow in the stuffing.
  • Be sure you have a roasting pan large enough to hold your turkey and a food thermometer.

How to thaw:

  • In the refrigerator: Allow approximately 24 hours per 4 -5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
  • Under cold running water (70°F or below): Completely submerge bird under running water in the original wrapper; cook immediately after thawing – do not refreeze.
  • In the microwave: Remove outside wrapping and place on a microwave-safe dish. Do not refreeze or refrigerate after thawing in the microwave.


  • Roast TurkeyUse a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey preferably in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the bird.
  • Do not use the color of the meat to determine if the bird is thoroughly cooked.  The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.


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State of Delaware Employees – Never Hide Your Talent!

Written on: November 16th, 2011 in Guest PostsRecognizing State Employees

Delaware Secretary of State Jeff BullockGuest Post from Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock:

I see the creativity of Delaware’s state employees in the workplace on a daily basis. Outside of the workplace, our employees pursue a variety of creative interests from singing in choirs to participating in community theatre to taking photographs of Delaware’s beautiful landscapes.

The key ingredients for success in the arts – inspiration, creativity, and hard work – are traits that are beneficial in the workplace.

Delaware Division of the ArtsThe Delaware Division of the Arts is organizing a new exhibition with support from the National Arts Program to showcase and celebrate the talents of the visual artists among our fellow state employees and their families.

The Division of the Arts is hosting the first-ever employee art exhibition in January 2012. This opportunity is designed for state employee artists (and members of their immediate families) at all skill levels. The deadline to register and submit entries is coming up on December 9, so please help us spread the word!

Kelly Ewing - Working on Art!Artwork in a variety of medium categories — including painting, work on paper, photography, sculpture, craft, and mixed media — can be entered. Participation is open to state employees and their children. Artwork will be judged by professional Delaware artists and visual art professionals in Amateur, Intermediate, Professional and Youth classifications, with seven prizes to be awarded.

There will be a public exhibition in the Mezzanine Gallery from January 6-27, 2012 in the Carvel Building. A reception and Awards Ceremony will be held January 6 from 5-8 PM in the Gallery and Mezzanine Auditorium.

National Arts ProgramThe exhibition is organized in partnership with The National Arts Program which includes 89 exhibition venues in 42 states and provides the money for the awards.

Don’t miss this chance to show your creativity and talent! For more information about the program or to register, click here. Or visit the Delaware Division of the Arts at

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Local Delaware Food – Perfect for Thanksgiving

Written on: November 5th, 2011 in AgricultureGuest Posts

Since the weather is getting cool and the holiday season is upon us, we asked Anne Fitzgerald, the Public Information Officer at the Department of Agriculture, to share her plans for feeding her family with Delaware’s incredible offering of local food.  WARNING: if you’re hungry, you might not want to read this…  If you’re not hungry, you probably will be by the time you finish it.


Buying local doesn’t end with the close of Farmers’ Market Season

Roast Turkey

Guest Post from Anne Fitzgerald, Dept of Agriculture: It’s November and I am making plans to shop, shop, shop for local food and other items.  First on my list is what Greatmamma called Thanksgiving’s “groaning board” feast – turkey time for my family. I have reserved a yummy, all natural, tender turkey from TA Farms in Wyoming that will feed about 20 hungry people and provide leftovers for the week after – love that turkey salad and turkey soup.

It will be picked up on Tuesday and roasted on Thursday (Thanksgiving morning) – nothing better than a freshly roasted turkey with homemade stuffing and giblet gravy.  I use my grandmother Mommoo’s recipe for stuffing that is rich with sage, pork sausage and sometimes apples, which means shopping for local sausage, such as Kirby & Holloway or Milton or Haass sausage, and local apples from Fifer’s, T. S. Smith’s, and others.


Delaware Fresh: apps.delaware.govFor the appetizers and sides, I have checked the Delaware availability chart and perused this year’s Farm Market Directory for on-farm markets that carry in-season vegetables and fruits into November, e.g., greens (turnip / collard / kale / spinach), Brussel sprouts, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, turnips, leaf lettuce, mushrooms, parsley, and pumpkin – all prepared in loving fashion from tried and true family recipes.

I can also use the Delaware Fresh App to find these products while I am out and about. If time catches up with me, as alas, it often does, I will choose frozen and canned items in our grocery stores from local processors that contract with Delaware farmers and provide jobs in Delaware, i.e., Hanover, PictSweet, and Vlasic.

Pumpkin PuddingRemember, I said feast, not diet, and so on to the desserts! I am torn between pumpkin pudding and Sap’s pumpkin rice pudding – one is mine and the other is made by our local entrepreneur, John Sapienza.  I think I will have both.

Ice CreamOf course, no feast is complete without ice cream, especially that made in Delaware.  Ice cream fanciers can buy local by looking for Woodside Creamery, Hopkins Creamery, University of Delaware Creamery, and Hypoint Dairy brands at markets or in ice cream shops across the state.  I have tried them all and they are the best.  I am sure family and friends will bring pies, but just in case they don’t, shop your local on-farm markets for that wonderful home made taste.

Apple CiderLet’s not forget the beverages, Delaware pressed cider, local brews and wines from our growing number of breweries and vineyards will complement the most sumptuous meal.

Most importantly, Thanksgiving is not just about food, it is about family, friends, and sharing.  Hope you enjoy.

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