Uniting Against Hunger
Did you know food banks and pantries traditionally see a decrease in donations despite an increase in need during the summer months? Through the Feds Feed Families campaign, USDA employees can help keep needed food items stocked from June to August.
In Washington, D.C., the Capital Area Food Bank receives collections and distributes them through its network of more than 500 partner organizations. Through these efforts, the food drive has collected nearly 70 million pounds of food for those in need. According to the department, last year alone, more than 12.5 million pounds were donated and provided to food banks and pantries.
But the efforts don’t stop at our nation’s capital.
USDA offices in every state contribute by gathering non-perishable food items to donate directly to a local food bank. Through participating food banks, employees are also able to volunteer to pick or package fresh fruits and vegetables that famers have set aside to assist the local communities in fighting hunger—an activity known as gleaning. Volunteers can pick, sort and deliver fresh produce to food banks, churches and other partners.
Over 1,700 volunteers each year glean and harvest local farmers’ fields at Virginia’s Northern Neck Food Bank (NNFB), collecting 391,000 pounds of fresh produce.
Zakery Comer was one of many USDA employees who attended a gleaning in 2016.
“It was a great experience to do something that would directly benefit the community,” Comer said. “I was so happy to unite with both fellow employees and the food bank to fight against hunger.”
For years, the USDA offices in Virginia have been fortunate to work with the NNFB to help contribute to this campaign, as the organization works to not only fight against hunger, but to also make a positive impact on health in the community.
In 2012, the NNFB surveyed 5,000 of its clients and found that 32 percent of the households it served had a member with Type I or II diabetes. The food bank turned immediately to area farmers who could provide healthier food.
In just two years, the NNFB increased the amount of produce served to its clients from 5 percent to 40 percent. The food bank provides nutritional supplemental food and other assistance through several food pantries to more than 8,000 residents each month. Residents now receive 40 percent produce, 40 percent non-perishable items, 10 percent meat and 10 percent dairy/bakery products.
In 2015, USDA Rural Development provided the Northern Neck Food Bank with a $50,000 grant and a $19,000 loan to help the organization purchase a refrigerated truck, which enables employees to deliver fresher produce more efficiently to a large area.
The funds were contributed through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, which provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Funds can be used to purchase, construct, and/or improve essential community facilities, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses.
Examples of essential community facilities include health care facilities, public/municipal facilities, community support services facilities, public safety services facilities and equipment, educational facilities, telemedicine or distance learning equipment, and local food systems such as community gardens, food pantries, community kitchens, food banks, food hubs or greenhouses.
USDA Natural Recourses Conservation Service and USDA Farm Service Administration also have helped NNFB by working directly with the farmers who donate to ensure sustainable, productive practices are used.
At this time of year it is gratifying to have helped an organization to better serve, and to see a community working together to help that organization. These things are motivation for us to strive to be a part of even more wonderful community projects in the years to come.
||Obligation Amount||$69,000||Date of Obligation||August 2015||Congressional District||1st||Senator's Last Names||Warner, Kaine|