Washington, D.C. - Tuesday, United States Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Cabinet members delivered tons of food collected by federal employees, spotlighting the Fed Feeds Families effort to fight hunger. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (HI), Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, General Services Administration Chief Human Capital Officer Gail Lovelace, and Department of Defense staffers participated in the delivery to the Capital Area Food Bank.
"When President Obama challenged Americans to give back to their communities through United We Serve, Federal workers were among the first to respond," said OPM Director John Berry. "I see a single-mindedness of purpose in the government workers and volunteers gathered here at the Capital Area Food Bank today. Across the government, Federal workers have mobilized to collect non-perishable items for local food banks nationwide. Here in Washington, D.C., for instance, nearly half of our children are at risk of hunger. These children and their families are benefiting from the generosity of our Federal workforce, and we're going to do even more between now and September 11th to meet the needs in our local communities."
"At the end of the day, Feds Feed Families is all about making sure that those who are most in need have something nutritious to eat," said Secretary Salazar. "It's about fulfilling our commitment to helping those who are waking up with empty stomachs, children who can't learn because they are so hungry, and workers and their families who are worried about where they will find their next meal. Feds Feed Families honors our most fundamental civic values we share as a country - I am proud of the progress so far, but we will continue to work to fill the food banks and help those in need."
Noting enthusiastic participation from Feds at every level, Senator Akaka said, "I'm pleased to see so many government employees here - and Secretaries. I commend federal workers for going beyond their regular duties to feed the hungry and help families in need."
Representing the Agency that addresses hunger the most, U.S.D.A. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the drive and her visits to food banks nationwide this summer inspired her to promote volunteering as a team-building exercise throughout the Department. "Working at food banks gives USDA employees an opportunity to discuss the department's work in alleviating hunger and to give back in their local communities. This summer, President Obama has urged people across the country to unite in volunteering through the ‘United We Serve' initiative. Challenges facing families in America are great, but we can accomplish more if we come together to support each other."
Hunger is acute this summer, but the Cabinet members also wanted to highlight that giving should be fun. To raise enthusiasm and donations, Director Berry challenged Cabinet members to a "Crazy Shirt" contest, with the losers owing 100 pounds of food. One of the Department of Defense staffers even wore a shirt with battery-powered Christmas lights. Director Berry said, "I have been bested by both Secretary Salazar and the Department of Defense. I will donate 200 more pounds of food."
OPM launched the Feds Feed Families campaign in June, in partnership with the Federal Chief Human Capital Officers Council, as part of the United We Serve initiative. The initiative encourages all Americans to take part in volunteer service projects which benefit their communities, and its initial phase runs through September 11. The U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Defense have worked to coordinate collection efforts for the drive across the capital region. Additional support has been provided by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.
The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is the largest recipient of the drive, with additional Federal efforts across the country benefiting local food banks. The CAFB is the largest non-profit hunger resource in the Washington, DC area. Federal workers are organizing collection efforts in nearly every agency and they can track their own progress this summer through FedsFeedFamilies.gov.
For more information of the Feds Feed Families campaign, visit: www.FedsFeedFamilies.gov