October 12, 2011
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, – The Defense Department today joined its co-sponsor, the Agriculture Department, and other government agencies to celebrate the successful completion of 2011’s “Feds Feed Families” campaign.
DOD led 40 government agencies, donating 2,004,613 of a total 5,793,446 pounds of nonperishable food items to feed children, senior citizens and families, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
“You are all shining examples of our big-hearted, creative and hard-working federal family,” OPM Director John Berry said at a Pentagon Auditorium event marking the end of this year’s campaign.
Before a short awards ceremony, Berry explained how the Feds Feed Families program initially came about.
“Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia called me back in 2009 and explained to me about how bad it was for food banks out there,” he said. “During the summertime, … he noticed that donations would fall off, and yet kids didn’t have access to school lunch programs — so the demand was actually higher when the supply was falling.
“And he had a simple question,” Berry continued. “He said, ‘John, is there anything you think federal workers might be able to do to help?’ We put our thinking caps on and discussed this with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, and everyone agreed ‘Let’s try.'”
Feds Feed Families has been a big help in closing that gap, Berry said. “Our donations help assure that those kids aren’t greeted by empty shelves when they or their parents go up in the pantry,” he told the audience.
The director also noted the campaign’s original goal would have been met even if the DOD and the Agriculture Department hadn’t achieved such success.
“Even if you took those two agencies out of it, the rest of the federal government across the country still stepped up and met the goal,” he said. “So this was a winning effort no matter how you cut it, no matter how you look at it.”
Berry also pointed out that most of the food collection drive took place during a critical time for the country, while people working at the Pentagon were helping to hunt down Osama bin Laden and federal Emergency Management Agency workers across the country were managing tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes going up the East Coast.
“And all of us … have been operating under the stress of uncertain budgets,” Berry said. “It is a testament to the commitment and the character of our federal workforce that even under these conditions we found the time, on a voluntary basis, to help those in our country in the deepest of need.”
Jo Ann Rooney, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, also spoke during the celebratory gathering.
“We often hear the words ‘teamwork,’ ‘partnerships,’ ‘collaboration’ and even those terms like ‘servant leader,'” she said. “But too often, we struggle to actually put definitions or even understand the true meaning behind those words. We look around and we try to seek examples of programs, actions or … measurable outcomes that demonstrate, firsthand, the intent behind what could be really powerful terms.
“Today, though, is an opportunity for us to join together to honor everyone who took the challenge, answered with actions and put clear meaning behind those notions teamwork, partnerships, yes, and servant leadership,” she added.
Rooney said federal employees have donated 8.4 million pounds of nonperishable goods and daily essentials to those in need since 2009.
“We embraced the spirit of public service, military service compassion and hard work for the betterment of our neighbors and our entire nation,” she said. “It makes up the heart of our core values. It’s actually what drives our passion. Feds Feed Families represents another opportunity for us to demonstrate our willingness to … go above and beyond the call of daily service – to take action that does, in fact, change lives.”