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The Energy Department Feeds Families

August 15, 2014 - 2:45pm

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Energy Department employee Tyesha Bennett and her family gleaned 4,400 pounds of sweet potatoes as part of Feds Feed Families | Photos courtesy of Tyesha Bennett, Energy Department.

Energy Department employee Tyesha Bennett and her family gleaned 4,400 pounds of sweet potatoes as part of Feds Feed Families | Photos courtesy of Tyesha Bennett, Energy Department.

At the Department of Energy, we talk a lot about fuel. Whether it’s collecting solar power, finding cleaner ways of burning fossil fuels or using nuclear power sources, fueling America is one of our major focuses.

But as we focus on keeping the lights on and the computers running, there is another, more basic type of fuel that Americans need: food.

One in six Americans struggles with hunger on a daily basis. Nearly 160 million people in our country don’t know where their next meal will come from, or whether they will eat at all. And hunger happens every day, to people of all ages, races and creeds.

That’s why the Energy Department is partnering with USDA for the fifth annual Feds Feed Families campaign. Since the campaign began in 2009, federal workers have donated and collected more than 24 million pounds of food and other non-perishable items to support families across America. Our goal is to keep food banks and pantries stocked all summer long -- when children are not receiving food at school and donations are low.

Last year, the Energy Department collected over 213,000 pounds of food. This year, our goal is to meet or beat that number.

We’re well on our way. Not only are donation boxes throughout our offices filling up with non-perishable food items, but -- for the first time -- volunteers are helping pick remaining fruits and vegetables from local farms. This process, known as “gleaning,” clears produce that would otherwise be plowed under after commercial harvests are complete, and delivers it directly to local food banks for immediate use. Energy Department employee Tyesha Bennett and her family recently gleaned 4,400 pounds of sweet potatoes from Cheltenham Warehouse in Maryland -- meaning more fresh, healthy food for local families in need.

Other employees have organized “baseball” drives -- in which offices score runs for each 400 pounds of food they collect -- or are donating virtually by sending food from their favorite retailers directly to the food bank of their choice.

The campaign runs through August 27. On August 19, check out the National Chili Cook-off Challenge, happening at Department of Energy Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The event will include a chili cook-off among 10 federal agencies, games, a barbecue and a special performance by Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman’s band, Yellowcake. The event will serve as a “can” drive -- the suggested entry fee is at least one donated can, and the winning agency will take 60 percent of donations toward their agency’s donation goal. The Capital Area Food Bank will be on hand to answer questions and gather donations following the event.

Learn how to contribute to the Feds Feed Families campaign. And for details on upcoming gleaning opportunities, contact Feds Feed Families Division Director Deb Lemmeyer.

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