With most Federal employees’ jobs not effected by the COVID-19 pandemic the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual Feds Feed Families (FFF) campaign takes on greater importance. Food banks are struggling to meet the demand of so many people out of work and food insecure. This year, 2020 marks the 11th annual FFF campaign which reaches out to employees from all federal departments and agencies to donate food, services and time. Resources collected go to food banks and pantries around the country. The campaign takes place in June and July but throughout the year FFF sends out seasonal reminders to donate throughout the year.
“During these challenging times with coronavirus, I am amazed by the generosity of the American people and their giving nature,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Our USDA family has the most dedicated employees in the federal government and this campaign is our chance to help feed those in need.”
The 2020 Food Drive is focusing on healthy, nutritious foods. Participants may collect nonperishable foods and fresh foods (as appropriate for each food bank). Items most wanted by food pantries include high protein foods such as canned or dry beans, peanut butter, canned tuna, and salmon. Also in demand: grains (such as brown and white rice, pasta, and macaroni and cheese), hot and cold cereal, canned vegetables, canned fruit, dried fruits, 100 percent juice drinks, granola bars, and soups.
There are many ways to participate:
- Become an FFF Champion at your department or agency to motivate your colleagues to participate.
- Donate online: Purchase food at an online grocer and have it delivered directly to a food bank or pantry. Or make a monetary donation to a food pantry or food bank. Record your donation in either pounds or dollars on the FFF Hub.
- Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): Donate money to a food pantry or food bank through the CFC special solicitation through June 30 and also during the regular CFC giving season from September through January. Record your donation on the FFF Hub.
- Attend a virtual food drive event: Join your colleagues online to learn about food insecurity in your community and how to donate pounds to participating local organizations.
- Drop off donations at your local food bank or pantry: Record your donation in pounds on the FFF Hub.
- Plant-a-row: Plant an extra row of produce in your garden and give the extra harvest to local feeding programs.
- Field Gleaning: Field Gleaning is the harvesting of unused or unharvested produce. Search for gleaning opportunities in your community that you can do on your own time. Learn about gleaning with the USDA Gleaning Toolkit. Weigh the produce or ask the farm to help you calculate pound and record your donation on the FFF Hub.
- Warehouse Gleaning:Warehouse Gleaning is volunteering to sort and package food donations at a food bank or pantry and is completed on your own time. Ask the food bank or pantry to help determine the weight of food resulting from your volunteer time and record your donation on the FFF Hub.
Check with your local commissary to see if they are participating in the campaign. They have two ways to participate; purchase a prepackaged brown bag and drop it off in the designated bin or purchase, or bring in, any nonperishable or personal hygiene product and drop it in the bin.
You can also check out the FFF new website, the FFF Hub to find out more about participating in the campaign. FFF measures their donations in pounds rather than dollars and the website provides a way to record contributions. It also provides information on ways to participate and success stories.
According to the FFF website, Since Feds Feed Families launched in 2009, this campaign has collected more than 92 million pounds of food for donation. In 2019 alone, federal employees donated more than 2.8 million pounds. USDA is the designated lead agency for the National Feds Feeds Families campaign for the U.S. government nationwide.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com