JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Feds Feed Families national food drive has already produced impressive local results for Second Harvest North Florida and its member agencies – with more than 90,000 pounds of food donated by the military personnel, families and commissary vendors at NAS Jacksonville during the past month. Included in that total is a donation of more than 70,658 pounds of General Mills nonperishable food that arrived at the NAS Jax Commissary on Friday, Aug. 19.
Included in the General Mills donation was cereal, yogurt bars, flour and mashed potatoes, among other assorted products. The donation was taken to the Second Harvest North Florida warehouse, where it will be distributed directly to the more than 400 member agencies served by Second Harvest in its 18-county service area. A portion of the donation was also earmarked for the Sulzbacher Center and City Rescue Mission in Jacksonville.
“There’s a saying, ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ so I put the word out to see if any of our vendors would like to donate to the campaign. I was thrilled when General Mills representatives called and said they had two truckloads of items to donate,” NAS Jax Commissary Director Larry Bentley said. “This is great because we’re able to give something back to the communities who support our military members.”
“This is what Americans do to help one another,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shannon Skidmore, who is overseeing the campaign for the base. “It is just amazing how much support we’ve had in this effort to provide for the hungry.”
NAS Jax sailors and commissary employees spent much of the afternoon on Aug. 19 unloading and loading trucks with the food items.
“Our mission is to end hunger in north Florida. One in every six adults and one every four children are hungry and don’t know when and where their next meals are coming from,” said Elliot Darkatsh, Second Harvest’s director of food procurement. “During the summer months when kids are home from school, there is a much greater demand for donations, so this comes at a crucial time for us to be able to help these families. We have a wonderful partnership with the military here, and they are really helping us out by donating.”
The NAS Jax Commissary teamed up with the base chapel by contacting vendors for donations, placing bins at exits and providing incentives for store workers to promote the program. Base personnel will continue donating to the effort through the end of August.
The Feds Feed Families campaign grew out of the Serve America Act that created "United We Serve," an initiative that urged Americans to contribute to the nation's economic recovery by helping their communities. The campaign runs through Aug. 31 and benefits food banks and pantries around the nation.