On Monday I accepted the challenge for USDA to donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food this summer through the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF). Game on!
If each USDA employee donates just two pounds of food per week, we will contribute more than 2 million pounds and help our hardworking neighbors put food on the table during these tough economic times. FFF began four years ago to help fill a gap during the summer months, when food banks and pantries struggle with an increase in demand from families and individuals, but a decrease in donations. Each year of the food drive, USDA employees have stepped up to the plate: in 2011, USDA employees organized over 2,000 food drives across the country and collected 1.79 million pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food.
This year, the Office of Personnel Management, which coordinates the food drive across government, has challenged us to “beat our best” and raise more food than last year. When I spoke at the launch of the food drive at the Capital Area Food Bank this week, I said, “game on,” to those gathered and challenged USDA employees to regain our number one spot amongst federal departments and agencies by raising the most food out of any agency or department. Last year, USDA raised the most pounds of food per employee, and this year we will do it again with your help.
Feds Feed Families donations can include fresh produce as well. Last Friday, I spoke at the USDA Farmers Market to launch our food drive at USDA. Before the ceremony, I helped stake a handful of heirloom tomato plants named in honor of the Department’s founder Abraham Lincoln which are being grown in the headquarters People’s Garden. All the food grown at People’s Gardens on USDA owned or leased property is donated to help feed those in need.
More than 1700 People’s Gardens are planted at USDA facilities and in communities across the country and around the world. Those gardens growing food have donated more than 1.1 million pounds of fresh, healthy food to those in need thanks to the People’s Garden ‘Share Your Harvest’ effort.
Please help us meet our goal and answer the challenge to “beat our best.” USDA employees are some of the most hard-working and generous people that I know. I look forward to hearing stories from around the country about how USDA helping to feed families with this food drive.