The Department of the Navy (DON) this week joined the government-wide “Feds Feed Families” campaign to donate food and help combat hunger in local communities across the country.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) leads the campaign, running from June 1 through the end of August, with support from the Department of Defense (DOD), Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCOC) and other federal agencies.
DON efforts are led by the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) with the Chaplain’s office tracking and managing donations, said Chaplain (Cmdr.) Philip King, CNIC supervisory chaplain.
While food banks typically see large amounts of food on their shelves over the winter months, donations typically trail off after the holidays are over.
“By the time summer comes, the shelves are bare and that need still exists,” said Lt. Thea Lopez, DON Feds Feed Families operations officer.”Hunger goes year-round.”
Last year, the overall federal campaign brought in nine million pounds of food in the three-month summer program, with DON contributing 1.2 million pounds of the 1.8 million pounds from the DOD. King said the Navy is hoping to exceed last year’s donations during the 2014 season.
“It calls attention to hunger in a local community and meeting a need,” King said of the Feds Feed Families initiative. “A lot of kids depend on a school lunch program for the only meal they get during the day, and when school ends, many of them will go hungry.”
Within the National Capital Region, donations benefit the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), which serves as a hub for the area. According to the CAFB, approximately 700,000 individuals in the metro area are at risk of hunger, including 150,000 children.
While much of the attention focuses on children at home during the summer, the program benefits anyone in need, King explained, including senior citizens on fixed incomes who may be having trouble.
Donation boxes are appearing on Navy installations worldwide, and an official kickoff event is being planned to help bring the community together with food bank representatives. The goal of the event is to create interaction and show people where their donations go, Lopez said.
Personnel wishing to donate should place non-perishable food items in designated boxes at their federal workplace. To give directly to food banks in support of the Feds Feed Families campaign, donations must be weighed at the receiving food banks and personnel should bring a receipt to their command for management purposes, Lopez said.
For Sailors and Navy personnel who want to help but do not have a local food bank tied to the campaign, monetary donations may be made through the Religious Offerings Fund at the local installation’s chapel with each dollar equivalent to five pounds of food.
Another goal, Lopez said, is to help inspire people to get involved outside of work. “There’s so many avenues that people can use in their own communities,” she said.
For more information and other ways to get involved, please contact Lt. Thea Lopez at (703) 571-7059, or Chaplain Philip King at (202) 433-4057, or visit www.fedsfeedfamilies.gov.
For more news and information from Naval District Washington, visit www.NavDistWash.org or www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.