During this year’s Feds Feed Families food drive, the Schuylkill County USDA Service Center in Pennsylvania beat its last year’s total of 11,084 pounds of donated food with a new total of 19,092 pounds.
Feds Feed Families is a nationwide federal employee effort to re-stock the shelves of food banks and pantries over the summer months when need is high but supplies are generally lower.
Donations are typically canned items and other prepared foods, but in some places, like Schuylkill County, farmers also pitch in. This year, two local producers, Kenny Stehr and Sons and Alvin Wetzel, generously donated a day’s harvest of sweet corn from their fields. A large pickup truck of corn was removed from each farm, totaling over 4,000 pounds. Stehr also donated cantaloupes.
Producer Andrew Schwalm of Schwalm Farms donated numerous truckloads of peaches and nectarines. In addition to fresh produce, the NRCS field office collected non-perishable items and purchased bulk amounts of potatoes, cantaloupes and watermelons, which were then split up between donation sites.
To encourage donations within the office, the four agencies housed at the Schuylkill County USDA Service Center—two USDA agencies, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency, as well as the Schuylkill Conservation District and Penn State Extension—staged a friendly competition throughout the donation drive. For collecting the most donations this year, employees of the NRCS office received a free lunch paid for by employees at the other agencies.
Donations to Feds Feed Families in Schuylkill County are passed on to several food banks and soup kitchens. Collectively, USDA offices across Pennsylvania donated over 32,000 pounds of food over the summer.
This year USDA as a whole was challenged to donate 1.8 million pounds of food for Feds Feeds Families and exceeded that goal by collecting a whopping 2.77 million pounds of food.
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