Last month, NIEHS kicked off its annual summer drive to collect food for disadvantaged communities as part of the greater Feds Feed Families effort across the federal government. The program encourages federal employees to donate food and other essential items to families in their local area.
“This is a great way for NIEHS to enhance the well-being of our neighbors and broader North Carolina community,” said NIEHS Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., in a message to institute employees. “Thank you in advance for your amazing generosity.”
NIEHS has historically partnered with the Durham Rescue Mission and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to get food to those who need it. This year, in light of ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic, employees are encouraged to give to any food bank or pantry of their choice.
Big goals for a big need
According to the Food Bank, many people in central and eastern North Carolina struggle to feed their families and sometimes even lack access to necessities such as medicine and housing.
“In our state, people in nearly 590,000 households don’t have enough food to eat each day,” said Pinkney Wilder, an NIEHS administrative specialist helping to coordinate the drive. “For me, the Feds Feed Families campaign is my way of paying it forward and giving back.”
Last year, National Institutes of Health employees donated 224,878 pounds of food, hygiene necessities, and household cleaning products. This led to the distribution of 441,479 meals by the Durham Rescue Mission and more than 91 million pounds of food by the Food Bank.
“We are blessed to be a blessing to others,” said Edith Lee, another NIEHS campaign co-coordinator. “The Feds Feed Families campaign is an opportunity for us to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate.”
Ways to donate
This year’s campaign is scheduled to run throughout the summer, with final donations being tallied on August 31. With that timetable in mind and to maximize donations, employees have three different ways to give.
- Virtual grocery shopping — Employees can purchase items through their favorite online grocery store and have them delivered directly to a food bank or pantry of their choice.
- Online direct donation — Employees can give money directly to a food bank or pantry using an online donation portal.
- Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) — Employees can make a monetary donation to a food pantry or food bank through the CFC special solicitation from June 1 until August 31.
“Participating in Feds Feed Families is the best part of my job,” said NIEHS Program Coordinator Monya Brace. “I know how it feels to be hungry. It’s something that you never forget. So many are suffering, and giving back is the least that I can do.”
Call to action
Campaign coordinators realize that even some federal families have fallen on hard times during the pandemic, with kids out of school and some spouses having lost their jobs. Still, they hope their fellow NIEHS employees will still find a way to give what they can.
“Think of the feeling you experience when you’re hungry and then imagine that feeling magnified daily, sometimes even weekly,” said Wilder. “Families need to eat, and working together as federal employees, we can feed them. Let’s meet that need.”
(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)