Federal Employees Are Donating More Than 80,000 Pounds of Food Each Day to Food Banks

Bread of Life Food Pantry volunteers stand beside a truckload of the fruits and vegetables collected in support of the Agriculture Department’s Feds Feed Families campaign in Tipton, Iowa, in July 2012. Bread of Life Food Pantry volunteers stand beside a truckload of the fruits and vegetables collected in support of the Agriculture Department’s Feds Feed Families campaign in Tipton, Iowa, in July 2012. USDA file photo

Federal employees have been giving a lot lately.

They gave up pay increases for three years, take-home pay through higher contributions to their retirement pensions and pay altogether during last summer’s sequestration furloughs and last fall’s government shutdown.

Still, every year, federal agencies ask their employees to give more.

In 2013, feds gave less to their primary giving campaign, the Combined Federal Campaign, than in any year in recent memory. Federal workers contributed a total of $209 million to CFC last year, a 19 percent drop from 2012. Not all federal giving dropped off, however.

In fiscal 2013, federal employees donated 8.9 million pounds of food to the Feds Feed Families program, a 25 percent increase from 2012, when they donated 7.1 million pounds. The program lasts just three months, which means feds were donating nearly 100,000 pounds of food each day during last year’s drive.

The 2013 haul was the largest in the history of the program, which launched in 2009. In fact, feds donated more last year than in the first three years of the program combined. Feds Feed Families is a governmentwide effort coordinated by the Agriculture Department in which federal employees collect and donate food, which is then distributed to area food banks. Each participating federal workspace maintains a designated collection bin for the non-perishable donations for the duration of the program, which began June 1.

While USDA set the goal of program activity in every state and beating last year’s record participation, donations so far in fiscal 2014 are down. In June and July, feds contributed 4.9 million pounds of food. That puts the program on pace for about 7.4 million pounds in donations, a 17 percent dip from the fiscal 2013 haul.

Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, remained optimistic federal employees would once again break the contribution record, however, writing in a recent blog post the program is “well on [its] way to besting last year’s total.” She added she was “overwhelmed” by the generosity demonstrated by the federal workforce.

“Each and every day I see all the hard work OPM employees do to serve the American people,” she wrote. “And their willingness to help those among us with the least continues to inspire me.”

The Defense Department has been leading the way across government, eclipsing its total fiscal 2013 donations by Aug. 5, when it had collected 1.91 million pounds of food.

Each agency appoints a Feds Feed Families “champion,” who coordinates efforts with food banks, promotes the program to the agency’s workforce and tracks the total donations. Employees have just a few more days to get their donations in, as the program closes Aug. 31. 

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