Environmental Factor, August 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Feds Feed Families off to a great start at NIEHS
Organizers gathered with some of the food and hygiene items from the first collection June 28. Shown, left to right, are Wells, Rice, and Jirles. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
If the first two drop-box collections June 28-30 and July 27 are any indication, NIEHS is poised to set new records for food donations in 2011. Still, the Institute's Feds Feed Families (FFF)(http://www.ors.od.nih.gov/FedsFeedFamilies/Pages/default.aspx) organizers say the need is so great (see text box for what's accepted) that they're calling for more volunteers - and more donations - to help this year's drive set a new standard for philanthropy at NIEHS.
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The first delivery June 30 weighed in at more than 500 pounds, equivalent to almost half of the entire amount collected in 2010. Food collected during the July 27 pickup added 740 pounds, driving the mid-drive total to 1,240 pounds. Organizers are striving to beat that total substantially with the next collection August 31 from 7:30-9:00 a.m.
NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., says she hopes to get the kind of support for FFF that the Combined Federal Campaign has enjoyed for years. In her message to employees, Birnbaum pointed to high unemployment and the drain food banks nationwide are experiencing, as well as the big difference employees could make. “This is a great way for NIEHS to show our concern for the well-being of our neighbors in the North Carolina community,” she wrote.
As it was last year, the drive at NIEHS is organized and sponsored by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) 2923, Blacks In Government (BIG), and the NIEHS Office of Management (OM), to collect food for delivery to the Durham Rescue Mission(http://www.durhamrescuemission.org/) and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina(http://www.foodbankcenc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=FBCENCHome) .
Efforts nearly double in 2011
At the national level, FFF organizers were so impressed with the level of donations in 2010 that they raised their goals almost 100 percent, from 1.2 million pounds of non-perishable food and other items to 2 million pounds across the federal workforce. Last year NIEHS employees contributed 1,051 pounds out of a total NIH contribution of 13,000 pounds.
This year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has upped its goal to 83,300 pounds and, in a recent message to everyone at NIH, Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., offered this proposal: “This year, let's set a goal of every NIH employee donating five pounds of non-perishable food, which is enough to feed one family one meal.” Some federal agencies are issuing public challenges to their colleagues at other agencies, in a spirit of good-natured philanthropic competition.
Becoming a part of FFF is as easy as an email or phone call to the organizers - AFGE coordinator Bill Jirles(mailto:email@example.com) at 919-541-2637, BIG coordinator Annette Rice(mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) at 919-541-4410, or NIEHS OM coordinator Monya Wells(mailto:email@example.com) at 919-541-1952. Drop boxes are conveniently located throughout the main campus and in the Keystone Building.
Building a village of volunteers
The number of volunteers from across NIEHS/NTP grows by the week. Early joiners include William Boyd, Juanita Bradley, Sally Fields, Margaret George, Veronica Godfrey Robinson, Dianne Gray, Judy Hanson, Chris Long, Dennis Malone, Jackie Osgood, Michelle, Owens, Dudley Riner, VeeVee Shropshire, Mike Tyson, Mitzie Walker, Myra Westmoreland, and Sheila Withers. If the level of donations is as great as organizers anticipate, FFF will need even more volunteers to handle drop-box distribution and the final collection on August 31.
Most needed items for 2011 Feds Feed Families
FFF cannot accept any glass containers. Please donate the following kinds of items in paper, plastic, metal, or cloth containers:
- Canned meals, seafood, and meats
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Peanut butter
- Rice, pasta, and dried beans
- Infant products
- Hygiene items