August 31, 2012
CHARLES GEORGE VA MEDICAL CENTER, Asheville, N.C. – Employees and volunteers at the VA Medical Center (VAMC) collected more than 3,000 pounds of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items during a three-month long collection effort that has been donated directly to the MANNA FoodBank in Asheville.
The collection is a yearly program called "Feds Feed Families" that began in June and ended today. It is timed to help meet the need for food donations during the summer months when donations typically decline and food banks and pantries have a hard time meeting the needs of families. Geoff Patterson, a Human Resources specialist at the VAMC who helped coordinate the food drive said, "It has been a tremendous effort by all the employees and volunteers. There is a desperate need for food donations at this time of year, and we surpassed our goal of 1,600 pounds a few days ago."
Specially marked barrels and boxes were placed at every entrance and public space throughout the Medical Center. Cheryl Craft, project coordinator for the local food drive, said "that it was almost impossible for anyone to miss this event. Besides the donation barrels and boxes, we also held a contest to encourage artistic expression." Four Medical Center departments created displays using canned and packaged foods. "It's called 'canstruction,'" said Craft.
They built an American flag, a heart, a food scale and an oversized food donation barrel. Craft said that "our efforts help bring the Manna FoodBank motto, "Imagine a hunger-free WNC” a little closer to being realized."
Employees voted for their favorite display, a large heart that was designed and assembled by the employees of the Sterile Processing Service. Medical Center Director Cynthia Breyfogle said, "It's a pleasure to be part of an organization with such a sense of community. We are not the largest medical center in the VA system, but our donation total is among the highest collected by other VA facilities. I am proud of our staff for their generosity."
All of the food collected at the VAMC was taken to the MANNA FoodBank in Asheville which collects, stores, warehouses and distributes food throughout the 16 counties of Western North Carolina. "As one in six of our neighbors continue to struggle with hunger, MANNA FoodBank is grateful for the generous donation of food from the "Feds Feeds Families" food drive. The 3,000 pounds of food will be distributed in the 16 western North Carolina counties that MANNA serves. As funding for certain programs continue to be threatened, but need continues to rise, this food will have an immediate positive impact on families in need," said Alisa Hixson, director of Communications for MANNA FoodBank.
Federal government employees across the United States were encouraged to donate at least one pound of food. The national goal for the Department of Veterans Affairs was 230,000 pounds. In addition to the donation barrels and boxes the Veterans Canteen Service also supported the program with displays that featured a list of suggested food items.