One of the reasons I am so proud to work at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is because of our involvement with the Feds Feed Families food drive. We are truly “walking the talk” because our efforts have evolved the food drive campaign to ensure that low-income populations have access to healthy, nutritious fresh foods. Our food drive is operating not only in all of our state and local offices, but we have engaged our employees and farmers by encouraging them to donate their excess harvest from their farms, community and private gardens, and CSA’s (Community-supported Agriculture). No one should be left hungry or unable to eat because they cannot afford to do so. Furthermore, no one should be without access to healthy, nutritious foods because what we eat truly influences everything else in our lives, from your job to your abilities and self-esteem.
The USDA is working diligently to ensure that all Americans have access to healthy produce every day and in every way. Below is an article about USDA employees out of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland working to ensure every person has access to fresh foods.
2010 USDA Feds, Farmers, and Friends Feed Families – ARS Fresh Produce Collection
7/22/2010 at George Washington Carver Center
It was a hot, slightly humid day in the heart of summer……a great day for a Farmer’s Market, and an excellent day for ARS headquarters staff to collect some fresh produce donations for the Capital Area Food Bank of Washington, DC. USDA’s support of the “Farmers, Friends and Feds Feed Families” activities inspired ARS employees working at the George Washington Carver Center (GWCC) in Beltsville, MD to go one step further….why stop at collecting non-perishables? Why shouldn’t less fortunate families in our area enjoy the bounty of our GARDENS as well as our PANTRIES? A quick phone call to the Capital Area Food Bank confirmed that they could schedule a donation pickup to coincide with the GWCC Farmer’s Market, which takes place every Thursday morning from May to October in the facility parking lot. Within a few hours, ARS had coordinated pickup and delivery to the food bank with the APD labor services for two dates, July 22nd and August 26. All that was left was to get the word out. At 10:00 in the morning, ARS employees Tracy Havermann and Sharon Newman set up their table and chairs and started receiving the first few donations of cucumbers and tomatoes from co-workers’ own gardens. They were joined by other ARS folks Renee Utt, Rachel Zipper, Bonnie Lapelosa, Mary Goleski, Cheryl Brumback, Cathy Widner and Michael Wigfall throughout the morning. The donations started piling up as other ARS employees began drifting out of the building during their lunch breaks, picking up fruit and veggies for themselves, and generously purchasing extra to add to the growing pile on the table and in the boxes. Soon, even the Farmer’s Market vendors were wandering over with armfuls of their wares to donate! All in all, over 200 lbs of fresh produce were collected for hungry families in the Capital region, and in under 3 hours!