Last Friday, with the sun shining down and the DJ playing “Givin’ Up Food for Funk”, national office USDA employees celebrated the end of a successful Feds Feed Families campaign at the USDA Summer Bash. Given the level of fun that was had, I think it’s safe to say that it was the first annual USDA Summer Bash.
Of course, we took full advantage of this last opportunity to collect food donations, and we offered hot dogs fresh off the grill (many thanks to our Grill Masters, MRP Under Secretary Edward Avalos, FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, and FSIS Deputy Under Secretary Brian Ronholm) as well as chips, fruit, and dessert, in exchange for a suggested five-pound donation of produce or canned foods.
The aroma of hot dogs on the grill and the expertly curated soundtrack of classic funk and soul music not only lured USDA employees from their desks but also lured plenty of tourists from the National Mall. As a result, the USDA Summer Bash netted a total of 1,935 pounds of healthful produce and canned goods to donate to local families in need. And within the Department, we had a friendly competition that pitted the Mission Areas against each other to see who could bring in the most donations. The Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) won the competition with a total of 249 pounds of donated food, though the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) gave FNCS a run for their money, coming in at 237 pounds. Great work to both Mission Areas!
While the campaign-wide Feds Feed Families totals are not yet in – they will be calculated in the next couple weeks, the nationwide network of USDA employees should certainly be proud of what we’ve accomplished in three short summer months. As Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan reminded us at the Summer Bash, though Department of Defense may edge USDA out as the highest contributing agency, we can still count this campaign as a major win. It’s a win, because Federal employees across the country banded together to organize food drives in their respective communities to ensure that their friends and neighbors had access to healthy food this summer. And, ahem, it’s also a win, because we’re pretty sure USDA brought in more donations per capita than any other Federal Department. Not that we were keeping track.
In all seriousness though, I want to thank all the USDA employees who were generous not only with their donations but also with the time they spent volunteering with the Feds Feed Families campaign and related events. Special thanks also to Assistant Secretary for Administration Pearlie Reed, Deputy Under Secretary Karis Gutter, and Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Max Finberg, for lending a helping hand at the event. Go Team USDA!