DOD Aims to Combat Summer Hunger With ‘Feds Feed Families’
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 25, 2012 Defense Department officials have set a goal of collecting 1.5 million pounds of nonperishable food and household products during this year’s annual voluntary food drive known as “Feds Feed Families.”
Paige Hinkle-Bowles, deputy assistant defense secretary for civilian personnel policy, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service today the drive happens every summer to help in filling shelves emptied by the seasonal shortages food banks experience. The 2012 effort began this month and runs through August.
“We think it’s important for DOD to contribute. … It’s really an opportunity for us to show that we are public servants and we are part of the community, and want that opportunity to give back,” she said.
Hinkle-Bowles noted children who normally participate in the federal school lunch program may face hunger when they’re out of school for the summer. And when people take vacations, she added, they may not be making the donations that they generally would.
Feds Feed Families, now in its fourth year, is organized by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council -- which includes representative from agencies across government -- along with officials from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, DOD and the Agriculture Department
Hinkle-Bowles said the annual food drive was Beltway-based for its first two years, collecting from federal workers inside the national capital region. In 2011 and again this year, she said, the department has expanded collections throughout the country.
“People can contribute by bringing food into the workplace,” she said. “We have donation boxes throughout the country, at installations and here in the [national capital region].” The Pentagon has contribution boxes in place, as does the Mark Center in Alexandria, Va., where Washington Headquarters Service has its headquarters, she noted.
Defense Commissary Agency staffs support the effort by placing collection boxes in commissaries throughout the United States and at overseas military installations, Hinkle-Bowles said.
“Our goal would be that anyone within the total force who has access and capability to contribute … will do so,” she said. “If every individual, military or civilian, contributes just 1 pound of food, we will far surpass any goals that we have set for ourselves this year.”
The Capital Area Food Bank, which also accepts donations of school supplies and pet food through Feds Feed Families, distributes donations received in the Washington area to more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, and other service organizations in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland. Participating DOD organizations outside the national capital area donate to food banks in their communities. Agency coordinators can provide more information on most-needed items in those communities, defense officials said.
The Capital Area Food Bank compiles an annual “most-wanted” list of items food banks in the Washington area ask for. This year’s most requested items includes canned fruits packed in light syrup or juice, low-sodium canned vegetables, hygiene items and cleaning supplies. The list also includes multigrain cereals, grains such as rice and oatmeal, canned protein, soups, snacks, baking goods, juice and condiments.
“Our hope would be, if we can get the military and civilian population activated, we can far exceed even what we did last year,” when donations topped 2 million pounds, Hinkle-Bowles said.