On June 1, NIEHS launched its annual summer drive to collect food for hungry families, as part of the larger Feds Feed Families effort across the federal government. The program encourages federal employees to donate food and other items to needy families in their communities.
As in previous years, to distribute donations, NIEHS paired with the Durham Rescue Mission and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina , as well as a newcomer — the Durham Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center Emergency Food Pantry.
“A lot of people in our state are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Matthew,” said NIEHS Program Coordinator Monya Brace, co-chair of this year’s drive. “Others struggle to feed their children during the summer without access to free lunches at school. These aren’t people in a foreign country. They’re right here in our backyard, and this is our chance to help them.”
The NIEHS goal for the 2017 drive is that every person at NIEHS give five pounds of food by the end of August.
No shortage of need
According to the Food Bank, more than 637,000 people in central and eastern North Carolina struggle to feed their families, sometimes unable to provide essentials like medicine or housing to do so. In response, the Food Bank distributed 64 million pounds of food in 2016.
“Summer break for kids typically means higher childcare and utility bills for parents, many of whom can’t afford it,” said Jessica Slider Whichard, the Food Bank’s senior manager for communications. “The donations we receive through Feds Feed Families are critical to the shelters and pantries we work with to help those folks get by.”
Like the Food Bank, the Durham Rescue Mission also provides meals to North Carolina’s hungry, as well as grocery services to those unable to travel. In 2016, the Mission served 417,845 meals to hungry people.
The Veteran’s Affairs Emergency Food Pantry provides food and personal care items to local veterans and their families.
How to get involved
Collection boxes are located throughout the NIEHS Rall, Keystone, and Clinical Research Unit buildings. Because food donations can be heavy, organizers are providing curbside collections at the Rall and Keystone main entrances. The first one was held June 28, and two more are scheduled.
- July 26.
- August 30.
“Feds Feed Families is a great way for NIEHS to show our concern for the well-being of our neighbors here, as well as in the broader North Carolina community,” said NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. “I’d like to thank our employees in advance for their generosity.”
(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)