The Defense Department is playing a vital role in the fight against hunger, and DOD employees have made that fight a priority, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy said here today.
Paige Hinkle-Bowles, chairwoman of this year’s DOD “Feds Feed Families” effort, spoke at the campaign’s “Cover the Map” food-drive rally in the Pentagon courtyard to encourage donations as this year’s drive nears its end, with five weeks to go. The 2013 campaign began in early June and wraps up at the end of August.
“Participate and Make a Difference,” is this year’s slogan, Hinkle-Bowles said, adding that this summer’s donations are “already 250 percent above our record-setting 2012 campaign.” In 2012, DOD service members and civilian employees exceeded DOD’s goal and donated 2.1 millions of pounds of food to the National Capital Region food banks, she said.
Now in its fifth year, DOD’s participation in the Feds Feed Families campaign has expanded in its donations across the department, Hinkle-Bowles noted.
At today’s rally, a large section of the courtyard floor displayed a map of the metropolitan area, including parts of Maryland and Virginia, to represent where donations go to feed the hungry in the national capital region. Nonperishable food items and other “most wanted” products lined sections of the map to represent DOD’s participation, and the Pentagon community of service members and civilian employees took part by stacking donated items on the map.
The Capital Area Food Bank collects the donations and distributes them to more than 700 food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and similar organizations in the region, officials said.
The campaign is conducted during the summer for a critical reason, Hinkle-Bowles said: children who often miss a supplemental meal when schools are out of session.
“For one in six people in America, hunger is a reality,” she said.
“We’ve already seen in DOD that the spirit of giving is still with us -- [it’s] alive and well across the department this year,” she said. “The people across this great nation say thank you for all that you have done.”
Michael Rhodes, director of Pentagon administration and management, acknowledged to the crowd that employee furloughs mean it’s a difficult time to ask for donations, and suggested participants donate in a “Two-Can Tuesday” system, in which employees bring in two cans on Tuesdays to drop into the Feds Feed Families boxes situated around the Pentagon and other DOD organizations.
“There still are people in need, and that’s what we’re all about,” he said.