In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations. As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez. There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.
Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked. Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »
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! Read more »
Volunteers unloading the gleaned watermelons at a food bank in Missouri.
What do the National Resource Conservation Service , Farm Service Agency, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and 16 tons of watermelons have in common? These USDA agencies have joined together in Southeastern Missouri to donate literally tons of watermelon to the food banks in Sikeston and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This massive donation is the result of gleaning, which is the act of collecting excess foods from farmers markets, farms, stores, restaurants, gardens and elsewhere and donating that food to those in need. Read more »
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. Read more »
The annual Feds Feed Families food drive is a summer-long effort, but USDA employees in Missouri donate to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri all year long. Eight years ago, Tara Griffin, a Missouri Farm Service Agency state office employee, took the initiative to organize USDA employees to volunteer once a month at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Employees repackaged bulk food for individual use and sorted food products, giving them the chance to see first-hand the impact the food bank has on local communities. The experience was so powerful that Missouri USDA employees have continued to volunteer at the Food Bank once a month ever since.
Thus, it is no surprise that Missouri USDA employees are so eager to give back to the food bank each year through the Feds Feed Families campaign. Collaboration between USDA agencies within the Missouri office has allowed for friendly competition and spurred the generation of creative ideas to help make the state’s Fed Feed Families campaign a success. Read more »
Pennsylvania USDA officials and retirees recently partnered with a local producer to donate huge boxes of cantaloupes and fresh-picked sweet corn as part of the 4th Annual 2012 Feds Feed Families Summer Food Drive. The food drive is a voluntary effort undertaken by federal employees around the country to collect and donate perishable and non-perishable goods to food pantries and banks in their communities.
Locally, USDA agencies are partnering with Henry and Brett Stehr, brothers who own and operate Kenny Stehr & Sons Fresh Fruits and Vegetables of Pitman, Schuylkill County. The brothers can be found every Tuesday and Friday with fresh, local produce at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Farmer’s Market in Harrisburg. The Stehr brothers donated a box of fresh cantaloupe to the USDA food drive’s donation to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and current USDA directors purchased an additional box from Stehr & Sons to add to the donation. On hand for the occasion were Terry Stehr (former Schuylkill County Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Director); Bill Foose (former Program Director for FSA); Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director; Tim Kinney, representing USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Kevin Pautler, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Brett Stehr of Kenny Stehr &Sons Fresh Fruits & Vegetables and Bill Wehry, USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director. Read more »