Feds Feed Families food drive

Trina Charles, left, and Lance Cpl. Stuart Dunlap pass nonperishable food items for shelf stocking during the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Feds Feed Families food drive at the Havelock Cherry Point Ministerial Association in Havelock, N.C., Sept. 7, 2016. Launched in 2009 as part of President Barack Obama’s United We Serve campaign, the nationwide drive has collected over 52 million pounds of nonperishable food items for people struggling to put food on their table. MCAS Cherry Point personnel were responsible for donating 26,805 pounds of nonperishable food items. Charles is a volunteer with the HCPMA, and Dunlap is a refrigeration and air conditioning technician with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28, Marine Air Control Group 28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jason Jimenez/Released)

Marines, Sailors and federal employees on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point donated thousands of pounds of food during the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nationwide annual Feds Feed Families food drive June 1 through Aug. 31.

With donations coming in right to the end, the air station gathered 26,805 pounds of food and donated it to families in need.

"There were still some last-minute donations that were needed to be taken to the right places," said Seaman Austin Stepson, a clerical assistant at the base chapel with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. "There were times when shelves were stocked so full we had to leave food in the boxes. I honestly prefer to have it that way because I know next week all that food will be gone due to the high demand."

Launched in 2009 as part of President Barack Obama’s United We Serve campaign, the drive has collected more than 52 million pounds of nonperishable food items for people struggling to put food on their table, according to the USDA website.

"You might take a gander once in a while at how many people out there are in need of food," said Stepson. "But until you bring food to a pantry with people already waiting in line, that’s when it hits you how many people need and are grateful for our help."

Local food pantries like the Havelock Cherry Point Ministerial Association benefit from the food drive and assist in keeping families across the community nourished and fed.

"A lot of people are new to the area, some have lost their jobs and others are just in a tough spot in their lives." said Carolyn Mewborn, director of the HCPMA. "The food is given out based on the size of the family in need."

There is one family who comes in with 10 members, so that’s a lot of mouths to feed and they are not the only one with a big family."

According to Mewborn, there are 120 families a month that use the food pantry. The food from the drive allows donated money to be spent on other nonperishable food items.

"Usually when there’s not a food drive, we end up spending about $1,800 a month." said Mewborn. "We’ve spent considerably less than that since the food drive began. We still get donations from various charitable individuals and groups; with that money, we are able to buy even more food for the hungry."

According to Mewborn, not only did the volunteers donate food, but they also helped stock shelves and prepare packages.

"I want to thank the Marines, Sailors and everybody who gave what they could for those who are in need," said Mewborn.