Senior officials praise federal employees for local philanthropy
Cabinet secretaries commended federal employees for their commitment to service as they delivered food donated by agency workers to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington on Tuesday.
"I couldn't be any prouder of the folks at the Department of Transportation," Secretary Ray LaHood said. "We've had a great effort."
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said federal employees in the Washington area had donated 40,000 pounds of food in the first month of the food drive, dubbed Feds Feed Families. The campaign, which began on June 22, runs until Sept. 11, and Berry said federal employees in 450 communities are participating. OPM has set a goal of collecting 1 million pounds of food at agency offices across the country by the end of the drive.
Lynn Brantley, the president of the Capital Area Food Bank, said Washington's focus on international and policy-making issues sometimes makes it harder to draw attention to local issues like hunger.
"To be embraced by all the federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. area, I can't tell you what that means," she said.
Agency leaders praised federal workers for going above and beyond the public service they perform in their daily jobs. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is working with Berry on a series of work-life balance pilot programs, described federal employees as a family. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Workforce Subcommittee, said he hoped the success of the food drives would improve morale among federal employees.
Agriculture's Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the drive and her visits to food banks nationwide this summer inspired her to consider promoting volunteerism as a team-building exercise at the department. Working at food banks could give USDA employees an opportunity to discuss Agriculture's work in alleviating hunger, she said.
"We don't have to spend money to go to a fancy resort," Merrigan said after the event. "We can go to a food bank."