This week, USDA and other federal departments and agencies are recognizing the huge success of the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. USDA employees, farmers, and friends raised a total of 2.77 million pounds of food this summer! The U.S. Forest Service was a big part of this effort and the stories below captures a snapshot of how several different Forest Service offices helped fill the shelves of food banks and food pantries in their communities.
In Duluth, Minnesota, the Superior National Forest Supervisor’s Office set a goal of 2,500 pounds for the food drive. As an incentive to encourage their team, Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter and Deputy Supervisor Tim Dabney promised they would wear Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes and greet people in Duluth’s Canal Park if they reached their goal. The staff pulled together and donated 4,500 pounds of food to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. With the goal met and far exceeded, the Forest Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor put on the Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes!
The Ottawa National Forest, Watersmeet-Iron River Ranger District in Watersmeet, Michigan found that creative strategies can produce big results. Each week, their office food drive organizers suggested an item employees could donate to the drive. The collection boxes placed around the office were decorated by several employees’ daughters. Each girl was presented with a small gift and a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the Ottawa’s Forest Supervisor for their efforts. Employees collected 150 pounds of non-perishable items for community pantries of Watersmeet and Iron River.
The Olympic National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Olympia, Washington also came up with a unique way to get employees involved in the food drive. They created a competition that gave points based on the type of item brought in, and the staff was divided into two teams. As the drive neared the end, competition heated up with both teams trying to come out victorious. In the end the “Food Fighters” defeated the “Foods ‘R Us” team, but “Food ‘R Us” didn’t go down without a fight. Ultimately the Olympic National Forest Service donated 1,818 pounds to food banks in Shelton, Thurston County, and across the Olympic Peninsula.
The 4th annual Feds Feed Families food drive has been a great success thanks to offices likes these. USDA and other departments and agencies across federal government are celebrating the success of the food drive this week with a closing ceremony held at USDA headquarters.