But through the past two months Naval Air Facility El Centro personnel have brought in more than 4,000 pounds, well beyond the previous goal and on the way to 5,000 pounds of food for the local community.
The Navy base is participating with other Department of Defense and military installations in Feds Feed Families, a federal government-wide initiative to draw food donations for communities throughout the nation.
NAF El Centro officials began filling bins and boxes in early June, and the response from those on base has been great, said base Chaplain Lt. Jared Smith, who worked to organize the program at the facility. As of Tuesday those on base had collected 4,339 pounds.
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“We’re very, very excited; very, very pleased,” Smith said.
The goal is to help the community, he said. All of it goes to the local community through the Imperial Valley Food Bank.
Everyone’s doing what they can, from the public works department, the commissary to the children at the Child Development Center, he said. Sailors are even taking food to Niland-area residents who can’t make the drive to El Centro.
“The Navy’s motto is ‘a global force for good,’” he said. “To me, that starts in our backyard.”
The Department of Defense’s goal is 733,800 pounds of food, with the entire federal government program goal of 2 million pounds.
This is the first year the base has taken an active role to push for donations, said Public Affairs Officer Michelle Dee. The program has been going on through the federal government for three years.
The Seeley-area base is one of the leaders in collection for the Southwest region, she said. For a while it had more than half of the total collected pounds for the area that encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
The program lasts through the end of August, and Smith said he’s hopeful the base will collect more than 5,000 pounds of food for the area, which Imperial Valley Food Bank officials say is needed, especially at this time of year.
The summer is a slow time for food bank donations, said Sara Griffen, executive director of the Imperial Valley Food Bank. Whether it’s because people go out of town or they just aren’t thinking about those in need, there seems to be a big drop in the number of donations and drives for food.
While donations pick up somewhat in the fall nearing Thanksgiving with more food drives, there always seems to be a need for more community involvement, she said.
Food drives, like the one hosted by NAF El Centro, “they’re essential,” she said. “We need as much community involvement as possible.”
It’s the kind of initiative needed, where other organizations create a food drive on their own, Griffen said.
“It’s just vital to our ability to reach so many people,” she said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.