FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 3, 2013) -- With more fiscal uncertainty on the horizon, many Fort Rucker Families may find themselves struggling to make ends meet, but the Holiday Food Program is out to help those Families in need throughout the upcoming holiday season.

The program along, with the Fort Rucker Food Locker are ways, that Fort Rucker helps Families on the installation by providing holiday meals to Families that might not otherwise be able to afford them, according to Mimi Brooks, Holiday Food Program project manager.

"This is an internal program where the units and organizations on post have to nominate military and civilian Families within the work force if they need assistance with their holiday meals," said Brooks. "We have a number of Families each year that struggle. Some of our Families struggle year round, but especially during the holiday season, they need to spend money to purchase gifts around Christmas time, so we want to be able to provide those Families in need with additional help."

The Holiday Food Program gives food baskets from the food locker to Families that have been nominated by the chain of command in their organization or unit to receive assistance -- they cannot be nominated by just anyone, said Brooks.

One change that has been made to this year's program is that nominated Families must have dependent children to qualify.

"It can be single-parent Soldiers, but they must have children," said the program manager. "We also ask the units, as they're nominating these Families, that they nominate Families that will be here for the Holidays."

If the Families aren't going to be on the installation, then the gift certificates can go toward helping a Family that will be on Fort Rucker during the holiday season -- Thanksgiving and Christmas, she added.

Military members that are selected for the program will receive a gift certificate for the commissary on post, and the civilian members selected will receive a gift certificate to Grocery Outlet that they can use in Daleville, Enterprise or Ozark.

The redemption period for the gift certificates to the commissary are Nov. 22 -- Dec. 4, and in the event that the commissary hasn't reopened by that time, Soldiers will receive vouchers for an off-post grocery store.

Brooks said Families that are selected for the Thanksgiving program will automatically be selected for the program during Christmas time and do not need to be submitted for nomination again.

"Families must be nominated by a supervisor within a unit or organization, and the nominations must be routed up through their chain of command," said Brooks, adding that all nomination packets must be submitted to the garrison sergeant major no later than Oct. 25 for the Thanksgiving gift certificates.

If when Thanksgiving passes and a new Family comes in or a unit recognizes that there are additional Families in need, they have until Dec. 2 to submit additional nominations for Christmas.

Although Families can only be submitted through their chain of command, people can still get involved and help out Families in need by donating or volunteering at the Fort Rucker Food Locker, said Brooks.

"People can also volunteer and assist with the program at the food locker if they want," she said. "Sometimes (the food locker) needs help getting the food baskets together, and if anyone is interested, they can contact them for that."

People can make monetary or food donations to the food locker or the Holiday Food Program gift certificates by contacting Brooks at 255-2341.

"This program runs solely on donations from the community," said Brooks. "This program doesn't receive any funding from the Army or the federal government, so we can only provide the amount of assistance that we receive from the community."

If a Family was not submitted for the Holiday Food Program but needs assistance, Army Community Service has programs like the emergency food program, which is a voucher for the commissary, or they can still be referred to the food locker by means of ACS, or directly through their chain of command, said Brooks.

For more information about the Holiday Food Program, AER or ACS, call 255-2341. For more information about the food locker or volunteering, call 255-2901.