'Feds Feed Families' campaign benefits local food pantry

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
His eyes glisten with tears when he begins to talk about how appreciative families using the Community Interfaith Food Pantry are for the food people at nearby Scott Air Force Base are donating this August.

"Whatever you donate here is going to help the needy families in the area," said retired Chief Master Sgt., Jerry Messick, the food pantry director. 

People at Scott AFB are stepping up this month to help meet the challenge of gathering two million pounds of food during this summers' Department of Defense "Feds Feed Families" campaign. Food banks across the country are facing severe shortages of non-perishable items while children are left without school nutrition programs in the summer months.

"When the food bank found out that they were receiving food from Scott they were ecstatic," said Master Sgt. Collin Baulch, the Scott AFB Feds Feed Families representative. "I don't think they originally thought it would be this big of a donation."

The DOD standard amount is one pound per person, but Baulch hopes to exceed that amount.

"All food collected will be weighed and delivered to the food pantry in Belleville, Ill., where they support 500 families a month, including members from Scott AFB," Baulch said.

One of Baulch's responsibilities as the representative was to find a food bank in the area to receive donated food.

"Out of all the food banks in the area this food bank is the one that primarily assists Scott AFB and provides to the largest spectrum," he said. "I figured why not support our own."

Messick stood up the food pantry in 2006. It serves people in a number of communities in the Belleville area.

"Right now is a critical period because school has not started back up," Messick said. "A lot of the low-income families' children receive free breakfast and lunches at school. For a lot of families those are the only two meals they receive in a day. In summer, when school is out, families are stressed for food, so we have a lot more families come in."

In July the food bank had 540 families come in and are expecting 560 to 580 this month.

"I see how fast the shelves are becoming empty," Baulch said. "With just a few boxes we can double the amount of needed items. This is just another one of those things that proves how important the community is to Scott Air Force Base."

On Aug. 15 and 31 Scott members will be inventoring the donated food and weighing it. Then volunteers will take it to the food bank.

Some of the major items needed at the local food bank are toothpaste, pasta and canned foods. For a complete list of items, visit www.fedsfeedfamilies.gov.

"Scott AFB and the food pantry are both here to help people in need," Messick said. "Thank you Scott Air Force Base. We are glad that you consider us part of your community and we consider you part of ours."