Food Drive Heats Up To Meet Summer Demand
August 10, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Holiday seasons are typically the seasons of giving, when local residents donate large quantities of non-perishable food items in communitywide drives.
Yet, hunger is not a seasonal condition.
It’s an all-year community concern and, although it receives a higher profile during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a concern that needs to be in the community eye year-round.
Feds Feed Families hopes to change that.
This national food drive campaign, brought to Redstone Arsenal for the first time this year by Army Community Service and other installation organizations, is conducted in the summer months in hopes of making a difference for families in need during a time of year when food banks typically run as dry as the weather.
“This is a summer drive that recognizes economic hardships occur all throughout the year,” Natalie Taylor of Army Community Service said.
“Food banks are normally low in stock during the summer months, so families in need might not be able to get food for their tables. This year, because of natural disasters, food banks are experiencing even lower than usual supplies. What makes it even worse is that children in impoverished families are home from school during the summer months and they aren’t getting those two good free meals every day that they get during the school year.”
The statistics for poverty and hunger in the U.S. are disheartening. According to U.S. Census findings, there were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008. On average, one in six Americans are struggling to get enough to eat.
“As federal employees, we all have good salaries and don’t face the problems of poverty and hunger in our own families,” Taylor said. “But there are many families in our community who need our support and our help. Donating one can of food " or making it a habit of donating canned food every week or every month " will help to combat hunger in our community.”
The Feds Feed Families food drive campaign at Redstone is running through August. Donations received will be given to the Food Bank of North Alabama, which will distribute them to local families and organizations in need.
Federal employees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to work and donate them at one of several donation sites. Posters highlighting the program along with blue bins for donations are located at the following sites: Aviation and Missile Command building 5300, Space and Missile Defense Command, Child Development Centers on Mills Road and Goss Road, Army Community Service, Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, Garrison headquarters building 4488, Fox Army Health Center, Bicentennial Chapel, Commissary, Missile Defense Agency and Marshall Space Flight Center.
In addition, employees can collect donations within their organizations and drop them off at Army Community Service, building 3338 on Redeye Road, on Wednesdays during August.
The goal for the federal-wide food drive this year is 2 million pounds of non-perishable food items. Last year, the food campaign set a goal of raising 1.2 million pounds of food and other essential goods, and eclipsed it by receiving 1.7 million pounds in donations. The Department of Defense hopes to contribute 733,800 pounds toward the overall federal goal.
Each Wednesday, donations received at Army Community Service will be weighed by the Food Bank of North Alabama for a final total of the number of non-perishable food items donated by Redstone Arsenal employees.
“We are hoping that managers and leaders will mention this food drive during staff meetings and encourage employees to make a donation,” Taylor said. “If we can get even one can of food from each Redstone Arsenal employee " that’s one pound each " our total will reach well over 30,000 pounds. That would be a really good goal for our first time to participate in this food drive campaign.”
While this year’s Redstone participation is for only one month of the summer campaign, Taylor said Army Community Service is making plans to expand that participation to all three months of the campaign next year.
“After this one-month campaign, we will have a better idea how much we can donate so that next year we can set our own goal for the three-month campaign, and organizations will be able to set their own internal goals,” she said. “That may also mean we will have some competitions that will spur on even more donations. We can never have too much. Every non-perishable food item we donate will help a family in need.”
The following is a list of non-perishable food items along with living necessity items that are most needed by families and organizations:
• Canned vegetables " low sodium, no salt
• Canned fruits " in light syrup or its own juices
• Canned proteins " tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter and beans
• Soups " beef stew, chili, chicken noodle, turkey or rice
• Condiments " tomato-based sauces, light soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing or oils
• Snacks " individually packed snacks, crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, granola and cereal bars, pretzels and sandwich crackers
• Multigrain cereal
• 100 percent juice " all sizes, including juice boxes
• Grains " brown and white rice, oatmeal, bulgar, quinoa, couscous, pasta and macaroni and cheese
• Paper products and household items " paper towels, napkins, cleaning supplies
• Hygiene items " diapers, deodorants (men and women), feminine products, toilet paper, tissues, soap, toothpaste and shampoo
For more information about Redstone Arsenal’s participation in Feds Feed Families, call Taylor at ACS, 876-5397. The website for Feds Feed Families is www.fedsfeedfamilies.gov.