Story by Jason Bortz on 07/30/2019PENSACOLA, Fla. Service members, retirees and military families near Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola can participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-led initiative to assist the local food banks.
Feds Feed Families, a charitable venture initiated by the USDA in 2009, was created to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during the summer months, a period when these organizations historically see a decrease in donations and an increase in need, according to the USDA official website. The campaign began June 26 and is scheduled to continue through August 9.
"The hunger issue in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties is similar to that in other areas around the United States," said Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Martin, the NAS Pensacola Religious Ministries Department assistant leading petty officer. "Being in a position to donate some food items to the community we call home is something I think we all can appreciate. Helping out those less fortunate is not only part of being a good service member, but is part of being a good member of the community."
Martin said area commands should have a designated receptacle for items donated through the Feds Feed Families campaign, as well as a point of contact. He added that NAS Pensacola locations for dropping off non-perishable foods include the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) onboard NAS Pensacola Corry Station, the All Saint's Chapel, the NAS Pensacola Air Operations Tower and Bldg. 1500, the NAS Pensacola Headquarters Building.
"DeCA [Defense Commissary Agency] has also implemented a program through which service members or eligible patrons wishing to contribute to the Feds Feed Families campaign can purchase pre-bagged items that will be donated," Martin said. "This ensures the most needed products will be available to community members needing assistance."
Martin said the campaign has historically worked with an Escambia and Santa Rosa County-area food bank that NAS Pensacola has maintained a relationship for years. He added that items the organization needs most include canned of dry beans; peanut butter, canned vegetables, grains, hot and cold cereal, canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken, healthy snacks, canned fruits and juices.
"We [NAS Pensacola Religious Ministries] work with [the food bank] throughout the year and the most needed items are something the majority of us have or buy regularly," Martin said.
According to the USDA website, the annual food drive has collected nearly 80 million pounds of food since the campaign began in 2009 through donations from federal employees coordinating with partner organizations. In 2017, more than 10.4 million pounds were donated and provided to food banks and pantries throughout the United States.
NAS Pensacola, referred to as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation," is designed to support operational and training missions of tenant commands including Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC); Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC); the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT); Marine Aviation Training Support Groups (MATSG) 21 and 23; and is the headquarters for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).