As the furloughs and other economic stressors begin to affect those in the region, even a home-cooked meal seems like a commodity too often hard to come by.
However, as participants in the annual Feds Feeds Families (FFF) drive, Naval District Washington (NDW) is doing its part to ensure that no one has to go hungry in times of need.
FFF is a government wide effort led by the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is run from June through August, to coordinate not only with the typical drop in food bank donations, but also due to the rise in demand especially due to children’s absence from school and their receiving low-cost meals there. Drives in years past have seen an outpouring of support from federal employees, which is a trend that is hoped to continue through this year.
“The 2012 food drive was overwhelmingly successful,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter. “Food donations across the federal government totaled 7.3 million pounds of food items. The Department of Defense alone contributed over 2.1 million pounds of food, significantly exceeding its goal of 1.5 million pounds.”
Many federal agencies participate in the program, such as the Departments of the Interior, Labor, and Transportation, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and the various military branches under DOD. Although this effort is separate and is certainly smaller than the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), this is the only effort by the federal government’s agencies to collect foodstuffs for the less fortunate and not just monetary donations.
“FFF is so important because it energizes people to realize their potential for human compassion, a genuine love that becomes more than blowing a whistle or tooting a horn,” said Capt. Gary Clore, NDW regional chaplain. “In a society that is obsessed with electronic communication, looking at computers, tablets, and smart devices, this allows them to look out and around to people who need one of the most basic human needs - food. While we are easily caught in the hustle of D.C., this reminds us that we can stop long enough to care for others.”
Food donations are collected in donation bins at various locations (in the military usually in command buildings, commissaries, the exchange and other high traffic areas). Volunteers then collect the foodstuffs from the donation bins and deliver them to food banks, faith-based charities, and other related organizations who then distribute them to those in need.
Clore explained that those wishing to donate can do so in various ways. Collection boxes are currently available at the Washington Navy Yard in Building 101 for canned goods. If a donator chooses to make a monetary contribution through religious offering funds, Clore said they can donate money to a FFF recognized local food pantry.
While the FFF drive is in full swing, Clore said that there is still much to be done, and that help is always appreciated.
“This year is one of the most challenging drives,” said Clore. “The furlough may make an impact on this effort. Our Religious Ministry Teams are gapped with Religious Programs Specialists so it is very difficult for us to make pick-ups. This year we need volunteers to step forward and be willing to do what others have done in years past.”
The Navy has been an active FFF participant in years past, as have they been this year as well. Naval District Washington, in particular, has been a very active participant in the program, meeting and in some cases even surpassing goals set. Last year’s goal of 35,000 pounds of donations was exceeded within two weeks, and Clore is confident in this year’s results as well.
“I have a set a goal our first goal is 25,000 pounds by mid-August and I would love to see us exceed our goal of 35,000 pounds from last year,” said Clore. “We are capable of reaching 50,000 pounds by the end of August. Together we can meet this need.”
For information about volunteering with the 2013 FFF drive, or to keep track of the pounds donated, contact Chief Religious Programs Specialist Amalia Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-433-3133.