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Why USDA Employees Donate

Ladysmith Service Center employees with a Feds Feed Families donation.   Left to right Rick Cote (FSA PT) – Sandy Voldberg(FSA-PT) – Mike  Koehler(NRCS-DC) – Kathy Brihn(FSA-CED) Ladysmith Service Center employees with a Feds Feed Families donation.   Left to right Rick Cote (FSA PT) – Sandy Voldberg(FSA-PT) – Mike  Koehler(NRCS-DC) – Kathy Brihn(FSA-CED)

Ladysmith Service Center employees with a Feds Feed Families donation. Left to right Rick Cote (FSA PT) – Sandy Voldberg(FSA-PT) – Mike Koehler(NRCS-DC) – Kathy Brihn(FSA-CED)

At over 1,600 field offices across the country, USDA employees are playing their part to help reach our 2012 Feds Feed Families goal of 1.8 million pounds of food. Feds Feeds Families seeks to help local food banks and pantries provide for their communities over the summer months—a time of year characterized by increased need and decreased giving. We are in the final month of this year’s drive and it is more important than ever to stay motivated to both reach our goal and help our neighbors in need.

For Kathy Brihn of the Farm Service Agency office in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, the answer is rooted in years of experience helping those in need. Kathy, who spent ten years as co-director of a food distribution program , has had “many opportunities to reach out, and understand that many people are only one paycheck or illness away from a major disaster or homelessness.” With her background, coordinating a Feds Feed Families food drive was an obvious extension of her previous work.

Participating in a federal government-wide food drive doesn’t just help our neighbors in need—it can have a profound effect on food donors as well. Kathy recalls one such experience: “When I delivered a car load of food to the local food [pantry] the coordinator met me with tears in her eyes, stating, ‘I didn’t know what we were going to do in July because the donations were so low.’ How can you not have a feeling of gratefulness for all that we have, and too often take for granted? Helping others less fortunate keeps us grounded as to what is truly ‘want’ versus ‘need’.”

Jerry Irwin of the Agricultural Marketing Service office in Gastonia, North Carolina, echoed Kathy’s sentiment, stating that participating in Feds Feed Families is a reminder of how lucky we are to have security in a recovering economy. Jerry donates for those in his community who struggle to make ends meet, and who aren’t able to buy enough food for their family. Jerry states, “I donate because . . . nutritious food gives strength to help [people] survive.”

Like Kathy and Jerry, we all have a story that motivates us to keep giving. As we participate in the last week of the Feds Feed Families food drive, we ask everyone to take a moment and ask “why do I donate?” We encourage you to share your stories with us at collaborate@usda.gov. Let’s keep working together to help hungry families every day, in every way!

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