Yes, you read that correctly; commissary food bank donations have reached 4 million pounds. This is an amazing, and almost unfathomable number, but did you even know that the commissary made donations to food banks?
The program actually started back in 1985, but the hassle of registering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services kept many food banks from registering. Eventually, the program fizzled out.
It wasn’t until the government shut down of 2013 that the program came back to life.
With doors closed, food was simply wasting away on the shelves. DoD quickly gave the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) approval to donate those goods before they could lose too much shelf life. Unsellable, but edible items were quickly donated to local food banks.
Once those food banks saw how much they could benefit from commissary donations and with a little push, many started filling out the paperwork to register for ongoing designations. That year alone, the commissary was able to donate just over 636,000 pounds of goods to 72 food banks. That sounds amazing.
What’s more so, is that the program has grown so much that 1.8 million pounds of unsellable goods have been donated already this year, combined from 172 stores. 107 food banks have been able to accept donations this year.
At this rate, the commissary expects donations to easily top 2 million pounds by the end of the year.
This giant number is great, but at the same time it sounds like there is an enormous amount of excess being created by the commissary. There are 241 stores, so this actually makes up less than 1% of commissary goods. Now that doesn’t sound quite as wasteful.
The items that the commissary donates are all unsellable yet edible goods. That means that the package might have been damaged or that it somehow otherwise does not meet the visual requirement by the commissary to be sold on their shelves.
Luckily, something good came from the 2013 government shut down and people all over the country are now benefiting from the revival of this program. The press release from the Defense Commissary Agency comes at a great time. September has been designated as Hunger Action Month, when food banks across America urge people to stand up and fight hunger in their town. While it’s amazing that agencies such as the commissary are able to make huge impacts in the communities, you can make a difference too.
Food banks are always looking for donations. 1 in 6 Americans suffer with food insecurity, meaning they often go hungry or worry about having enough to eat. If 1 in 6 doesn’t catch your eye, that’s roughly 50 million Americans wondering if they’ll be able to put dinner on the table.
You can make a difference this month, and always, by donating the food in your pantry that isn’t going to get eaten. We all have a jar of this and a can of that that we question why we ever bought it in the first place. No one in the house is going to eat it, but there is someone out there that would be grateful to have it.
Make some time to clean out your kitchen of unwanted, unused items and take them down to your local food pantry. If you don’t have any food to give, you can still help by volunteering your time.
Hopefully the commissary, and this article, have helped to open your eyes to the growing need for donations in food pantries across the country and you will take action to help alleviate hunger in your town.