HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Hill Commissary is once again joining other stateside commissaries to serve as a common collection point for the 2018 Feds Feed Families campaign.
During the campaign that began Aug. 10 and continues through Oct. 15, commissaries help collect items most needed by food pantries and then donate them to on- and off-base food banks. This year marks the ninth consecutive year commissaries have participated.
Bruno Ortiz, Hill Commissary manager, said the success of the program depends on the generosity of the store’s customers, many who are military retirees and live on a fixed income. Ortiz said he’s consistently impressed with the kindness of customers. Last year, Hill customers purchased more than 500 bags of grocery items for donation.
Once the items have been collected, base officials work with thee commissary to deliver the items to local food banks.
The most-needed items for donations include:
• Canned vegetables – low sodium, no salt
• Canned fruits – in light syrup or its own juices
• Canned proteins – tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter and beans
• Soups – beef stew, chili, chicken noodle, turkey or rice
• Condiments – tomato-based sauces, light soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing or oils
• Snacks – individually packed snacks, crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, granola and cereal bars, pretzels and sandwich crackers
• Multigrain cereal
• 100 percent juice – all sizes, including juice boxes
• Grains – brown and white rice, oatmeal, bulgar, quinoa, couscous, pasta, and macaroni and cheese
• Paper products and household items – paper towels, napkins and cleaning supplies
• Hygiene items – diapers, deodorants (men and women), feminine products, toilet paper, tissues, soap, toothpaste and shampoo
“(Feds Feed Families) started with the local area food banks just in the D.C. area. It was only for them,” said Randy Eller, chief of the Defense Commissary Agency’s U.S. distribution, equipment, property and recycling division. “The Pentagon and all those people would participate, and they would put out boxes so people would donate. They got us interested, and we took it from the capital area and put it in every commissary we have in the United States.”
Overall, the Department of Defense collected 2.6 million pounds of grocery items for donation in 2017.
“For their part, commissary employees and patrons collected 1.5 million pounds, or 60 percent of the total DOD donation,” said Eller. “DeCA’s 2017 total increased by 480,000 pounds from 2016. We’ve got it down to a fine art now.
After you get past the first couple of times it’s pretty smooth, and the stores are used to doing it.”
For more information on this campaign, go to the United States Department of Agriculture website, www.usda.gov/fedsfeedfamilies.
(75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.)