WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 --
The "Feds Feed Families" campaign is a way to give back to the communities where Defense Department employees work and live, a DOD official said here today.
In its fifth year, the federal campaign began June 1 and ends Aug. 28, said Paige Hinkle-Bowles, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy.
While DOD has not set a goal this year for donations, last year set a record high at 2.1 million pounds of donated items, she said. "Every year, we've seen the department's total contributions go up," she added.
The campaign is conducted during the summer for a reason, Hinkle-Bowles said.
"The food banks across the country generally experience a shortage of food throughout the summer," she explained. "It is also a critical time for children, because they're out of school and might not get the nutrition they need [and get] from school programs. This is when we have an opportunity to contribute and make a difference, specifically for our children in our communities."
Howard Ferguson, this year's "champion" for the campaign, encouraged DOD personnel to "participate and make a difference." He said the feedback the effort is getting this year is that the spirit of giving is alive and well. "We think we'll have a very successful 2013 campaign," he added.
With a civilian personnel furlough beginning July 8 within DOD organizations, Hinkle-Bowles said she understands that times are challenging. "Anything that's contributed is of value," she said. "Large and small donations are appreciated. We just ask folks to give what they can."
Hinkle-Bowles said the military services and DOD organizations have significant involvement in the campaign.
"We've had a lot of cooperation over the years from our military counterparts," she said. "We really are a total force, and we appreciate the involvement of everybody in DOD who ... makes a contribution."
Food banks across the country will receive donated goods, Ferguson said. While only nonperishable items are accepted, this year's emphasis is on healthy choices and well-balanced meals, he added.
Donation boxes around DOD typically have a list of the "most wanted" items, such as canned fruits and vegetables, grains, canned protein such as tuna and salmon, multigrain cereals, healthy snacks, baking goods and hygiene items.
The campaign does not accept cash donations, but Ferguson said if people want to make such a contribution, they can do so directly at a food bank in their communities.
"We appreciate the support that everyone has given in the past and what we know will come in the future," Hinkle-Bowles said. "It really does give us an opportunity to show our public service and to give back to the communities."