When President Obama announced United We Serve, a summer service initiative to encourage all Americans to reach out in service to their neighbors and communities, he was very clear that the government acting alone can’t pull America through these hard economic times.
“Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington,” the President said. “And it’s going to take all of us, working together.”
Every day at USDA headquarters, we’re talking about different ways to get involved in this great initiative – because as the President said, communities play a vital role in the recovery work of USDA every day.
As a part of the Department’s effort, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Kathleen Merrigan took an opportunity to visit the Cleveland Foodbank on Monday, July 20, where she prepared some sandwiches for hungry children and met with the food bank’s volunteers, thanking them for their help in partnering with USDA to achieve the goal of providing safe, nutritious food to all Americans. Anti-hunger activities like these are a focus of community renewal efforts as part of United We Serve.
“Many communities in Ohio are finding it difficult to feed their families,” Merrigan said, “and it’s the selfless acts and donations of our citizens together with the everyday efforts of the USDA that are preventing these families from going hungry.”
Mary O’Shea, Advocacy and Public Outreach Manager for the food bank noted the event – like many community volunteer activities – brought together people of many faiths and backgrounds to serve. She also lauded USDA’s The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which has made $100 million available to the states to acquire food for distribution to local food banks. (The American Relief and Recovery Act provided a total of $150 million to help provide more food for those who need it most.)
“The day went very smoothly, and we were delighted that so many members of the Muslim community, as well as other religious leaders, were able to join us,” O’Shea said. “It was a great honor to have the Deputy Secretary here, and to share with her how important the increase in USDA product under the Obama administration is to the Foodbank and the agencies we serve.”
This was a great event by itself, but the important message of the day is that you can be part of one of the hundreds of events happening nationwide. It’s a Summer of Service for Americans from all walks of life, where communities can get their hands dirty and help in the recovery effort. You can learn more about events in your community by visiting www.serve.gov. We can’t do it without you.