Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. --
Feds Feed Families kicked off its annual food drive campaign aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, this week to support households in the surrounding communities. The campaign, led by the Department of Agriculture, began June 1 and is slated to end Aug. 31.
The Feds Feeds Families campaign is a voluntary effort undertaken by federal employees to bring non-perishable foods to designated donation sites. Donations are collected weekly and are weighed in by the pound.
“There will be donation boxes at the chow hall, [Marine Corps Exchange] on base, the chapel, some important buildings, and places where large numbers of Marines gather,” said Cmdr. William Holiman, the command chaplain for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “People can donate anything that is canned, boxed, sealed, and shelf-stable. No fresh products or items that need to be refrigerated and nothing that is just loose.”
The event comes at a time of year when donations traditionally decline and school aged children do not have access to school food programs, making donations especially important, according to the USDA.
“I go to the food bank every week in the summer and I can tell you what I see one week is always gone by the next week,” said Holiman. “A huge proportion of the kids in some of our area schools do not have two parents at home. It isn’t the children’s fault but they are in financial distress. There are plenty of poor grandparents who are raising their grandkids to try to keep them safe from inner city violence and drugs. So there is a real need for real people.”
The donations are sent to the Lowcountry Food Bank in Yemassee, S.C. From there the food is distributed to 52 local agencies in Beaufort, Hampton, Jasper, and Colleton counties, finding its way onto the tables of Americans in need.
According to the USDA, an estimated 50 million people, or one in six Americans, struggle and face the realities of hunger. Since the campaign began eight years ago, federal workers have donated and collected more than 39 million pounds of food and other non-perishable goods such as hygiene items to support families across America.
“Often people want to give to their own local food site, maybe it is their church or local YMCA,” said Holiman. “That is fine, but we give to the central hub so that it can go to wherever it is most needed in the county. In addition, towards the end of the drive we hold on to the contributions to make up Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to give to needy Marines.”
Donations are much welcomed but also volunteers in different capacities are needed to support the campaign— from setting up boxes to putting up and passing posters to collecting the food on a weekly basis, expressed Holiman. Also, leaders are encouraged to pass the word of the campaign at their sections.
“When we share what we have with those around us, it helps us to see the world through other people’s eyes, experience what they experience and that makes life better for everyone, “ said Holiman. “And even more, today we may be giving, but someday we may be the person who needs help. So participating, even in a small way, helps keep us fresh, helps our neighbor and helps our fellow Marines.”