The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has kicked off the annual government-wide Feds Feed Families campaign. The food drive is an annual event in which Federal employees in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and throughout the country collect food for distribution to food banks, food pantries, and shelters. The 2018 food drive will run through October 18.
“USDA has a great opportunity through Feds Feed Families to help those less fortunate,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “It really holds true to our motto, ‘do right and feed everyone.’ I am confident we’ll make this another successful year and leverage the spirit of service that’s shared by every Federal employee to help our local food banks assist their communities.”
Feds Feed Families started in 2009 and USDA is leading this year’s effort in collaboration with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and other department and agency partners across the government. All federal agencies across the country participate in the campaign and federal employees are asked to donate non-perishable food items throughout the summer.
USDA is encouraging government employees to “beat our best” and donate more than 17.9 million pounds of food this year. Last year, the nationwide effort reached a collection goal of more than 10.4 million pounds of non-perishable goods for food banks. Donations made in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area will go to food banks through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes them through its network of more than 500 partner organizations.
Field donations, those not in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, go to local food banks throughout the country – having a positive impact to help address food insecurity. USDA estimates that 12.3 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2016, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
This year, USDA is focusing on collecting nutritious foods, both canned and fresh when possible, that are high in fiber and reduced in fat, sugar, and salt. Some examples of healthy food items include canned fruit in light syrup or their own juices, dried fruits, 100-percent juice drinks, granola bars, low-sodium soups, no salt added vegetables, whole grain cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta. Canned proteins including peanut butter, beans, salmon, and tuna also are encouraged.
USDA is also continuing its focus on gleaned donations. Gleaned donations are perishable food items collected in-field or warehouse harvesting events. Examples of such items include fresh berries, potatoes, carrots, peas, watermelons, and broccoli.