Food Locker depends on constant support
July 20, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Feeding Families is a long tradition at Fort Rucker.
Year after year, generous Soldiers, Families and civilians contribute to the post Food Locker and holiday food donation programs sponsored by Army Community Service.
Feds Feed Families, which runs now through Aug. 31, is a three-year-old campaign that is a direct response to the “United We Serve Act,” signed by President Obama in April 2009, calling on all Americans to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery by serving in their communities.
This year’s campaign theme is “Feeding Families One Fed at a Time,” and donation drop-off points are located at the commissary, main post chapel, Wings Chapel, Soldier Service Center, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Aviation Brigade Food Locker and Picerne Neighborhood Centers, according to Mike Burden, ACS financial readiness program manager.
Once collected, donated items are transported to the post food locker at the 1st Avn. Bde., where they will be sorted and stocked. Spc. Melownee Floyd, who manages the food locker, said that the special needs of the food locker fluctuate, but there are fundamental constants.
“I remember at one point it seemed that everyone who was referred to the food locker was either pregnant or had an infant. Once the Fort Rucker community learned that we were lacking in baby items, people gathered together and brought in more baby food, snacks, milk and diapers than we could have hoped for,” Floyd said.
“Shortly thereafter, baby items were scarcely requested. We were very happy, though, that the community helped us to answer that call when it was needed. Due to the fluctuation, when people inquire about the needs of the food locker, we let them know that we are always in need of basic food items like rice, vegetables, canned fruits, beans and pastas,” she said.
Food locker recipients are military members and Family members who are referred through ACS.
“Commanders are our link to the needy,” Burden said.
“They and their staffs are the ones closest to the Soldiers and Family members, and are, therefore, best able to identify those who could use our help,” he said.
“Although basic food items are always welcome, we do appreciate being able to provide the non-essentials such as desserts, breakfast snacks, pancake mix and even kids’ cereals. When people come in seeking assistance from the food locker, they usually have children. Those non-essential items that seem so insignificant have actually brought out smiles, and in a couple of cases, tears,” Floyd said.
“Parents will tell us that small things like that help them to believe that their children won’t feel saddened or embarrassed about their Families’ finances,” she said.
Floyd added that food locker volunteers and benefactors strive to make Families feel welcome and comfortable.
“When I started working with the Food Locker two years ago, I was actually amazed at how much support comes from the Fort Rucker community. We have letters of donations sent in from churches, civilians and retirees,” Floyd said.
The NCO Academy and Warrant Officer Career College classes frequently donate canned goods collected at the commissary, according to Floyd, but the food locker is most definitely sustained by the totally Fort Rucker community, she said.
“BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) holds an annual Haunted House and donates all canned goods collected to the food locker,” Floyd said. “Each year, the Daisy Girl Scouts, Brownie Girl Scouts, Junior Girl Scouts and Studio 2B Girl Scouts volunteer their time collecting canned goods and also volunteer manpower (or girl power) to stocking the Food Locker shelves. They also create special holiday baskets for some of the larger Families needing assistance.”
“Also each year, Cub Scout Pack 50 brings in a majority of the canned goods that last through the holiday period. The Wiregrass Sergeants Major Association has been an essential contributor to the food locker and the Military Officers’ Association of America has faithfully donated cash to the cause,” she said. “The Retired Officers’ Wives Auxiliary provides not only canned goods and cash donations, but also recipes that the food locker volunteers are then able to share with those we assist.
Military units also get behind the cause.
“The 1st Battalion,13th Aviation Regiment and the 1-145th Aviation Regiment, have, on many occasions, provided last minute volunteers to help construct holiday baskets, shelve canned goods and even sort through thousands of canned goods to check expiration dates"not an easy task,” Floyd said. “Of course the largest donations we receive annually come from the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop and Army Emergency Relief.
“Like I said before, this community is great and the Food Locker could not stand without it,” she added.
“This year our community can once again come together to make Feds Feed Families another successful Fort Rucker tradition,” Burden said.