The Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) third annual Feds Feed Families food drive is underway. This year, Naval District Washington's (NDW) Chaplains are spearheading the regions efforts.
The Feds Feed Families campaign is a government-wide initiative which calls on military and federal employees to donate non-perishable food items to designated drop-off points located throughout the region.
"This is an extremely worthwhile campaign," said NDW's campaign Champion, Chief Religious Programs Specialist Sharon Hay. "We are collecting food to take to our local food bank to feed the people of our community."
This year's campaign began June 3 and will run throughout the summer when donations are needed the most. Food donations are generally lower during this time of year since the school year has ended and children are not getting at least one guaranteed nutritious meal on a daily basis.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joined OPM Director, John Berry and other members of Congress during the kickoff celebration and spoke about the importance of feeding hungry children during the summer. Schools are out and contributions to food banks drop because school nutrition programs have ended.
"Some of these children get three meals a day in school, school is out and that won't be happening anymore," she said. "There will be real needs that will simply go unmet, without the generosity of the federal workforce."
On the last Wednesday of each month all donated food will be distributed to the local food banks. The donations that are made to the NCR will be taken to the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB).
The CAFB is the largest nonprofit food distribution center in the Washington metro area and partners with more than 700 agencies to feed and provide nutritional education resources to 480, 000 residents within the Washington metro area. This year's campaign will also help the CAFB to reach its goal of distributing 30 million pounds of food, half of which contains fresh produce.
"We are putting out boxes to collect food, posting flyers to get the word out, and taking the donations to the food bank," said Hay. "We have boxes at the Commissary, the cha-pels, various buildings around the Navy Yard and other installations inside of the beltway."
To date, NDW has raised more than 600 pounds of food within the first two weeks of the campaign.
Feds Feed Families surpassed their goal last year of 1.2 million pounds by donating more than 1.7 million pounds. To keep the momentum going, Berry set the bar even higher this year and challenged all federal employees to raise two million pounds of food.
A Chaplain's primary mission is to provide spiritual support to military service members. However, they also support the community and participate in several community related programs each year. Chief Hay believes it is important to support our community, and volunteering and giving donations are the best way for military and federal employees to give back.
"Our community helps us in so many different ways and it's our time to help them," she said. "We need to help our communities thrive, because without our communities we don't thrive."
This year's campaign theme is "Feeding Families one Fed at a Time." This initiative is a response to the "United We Serve Act," signed by the President in April 2009, which called for all Americans to contribute to the nation's economic recovery by serving their communities.