• Commissary shoppers donate 3 tons of food

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Fort Leavenworth Commissary customers donated more than 7,000 pounds of food to the annual Feds Feed Families campaign this year.
    Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Fuller said all of the credit for this accomplishment goes to Regenia Singletary, store manager, and the Commissary staff.
    Fuller said after the initial contact from Commissary Secretary Mike Wharton for assistance, the idea was to distribute the food as had been done in the past for similar initiatives. He said coordinating with various military units and organizations, like Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, to transport the food from the Commissary and deliver it to the food pantries around post took time to accomplish.
    “Mr. Wharton called me about two months ago and said he had about 300 pounds of food to distribute, but we weren’t able to accomplish the distribution immediately,” Fuller said. “That delay resulted in the food amount increasing to 500 pounds, then 800 pounds — the next thing I heard was 3,000 pounds, and now I’m hearing it’s over 6,000 pounds of food that this community has donated to help service members and families on this installation as of Aug. 24.”
    Singletary said the annual Feds Feed Families is a U.S. Department of Agriculture campaign that officially began June 1 and concludes today.
    “The program allows Commissary customers to purchase food to donate to families on post,” Singletary said. “Garrison Command facilitates gathering that food and distributing it to the various food closets on Fort Leavenworth.”
    Singletary said the Feds Feed Families program was created to assist local food closets in staying stocked during summer months when they traditionally see a decrease in donations and an increase in need. She said Commissary employees were instrumental in the successful campaign on post this year.
    “Our cashiers were on fire about the system of giving we had set up this year. They were able to tell our customers checking out about donating to the campaign in a seamless way that proved effective in getting the word out and conducive to their normal work flow,” Singletary said. “We found customers were especially willing to contribute when they knew the food would help soldiers and their families at Fort Leavenworth.”
    Singletary said the Commissary participates in Feds Feed Families with the emphasis on supporting the military community. She said because there are not many food banks on the installation, distribution is made possible by coordinating with the Garrison Command.
    “We rely upon our Garrison command sergeant major to champion getting the donations distributed,” Singletary said. “Our grocery manager, Kim Solie, did a great job putting together the process for our campaign this year.”
    Solie said the Commissary staff prepared bags of food in advance, which allowed Commissary customers to purchase and donate an entire bag of groceries to soldiers and their families for $9.99 without having to select the individual items themselves.
    Page 2 of 3 - “We had a set of program guidelines to follow that contained a list of most-needed items. I used this same system in Korea and it worked well,” Solie said. “And it works well here. All of our Commissary employees did a great job executing the campaign.”
    Linda Younger, who supervises the cashiers, said Solie was responsible for bringing an efficient system for the local Feds Feed Families campaign. Younger said the program did not perform especially well in past years.
    “I think the credit for our turnaround goes to Kim because she came up with a system of pre-made bags containing a variety of items,” Younger said.
    Younger said store cashiers were at the front line of the effort by informing customers about the program and the pre-made bags of food available for purchase. She said they were also instrumental in putting the individual bags together.
    “Whenever we ran out of pre-made bags of food, the cashiers got together and made more. This process took time because all of the included items had to remain within a predetermined total price,” Younger said. “Cashiers made sure there was a new stock of food bags available at the end of every day before they went home.”
    Cashier Lisa Dunn said most of the customers she encountered were excited about the program and glad to help.
    “Initially, we weren’t aware of the total amounts of food that had been donated,” Dunn said. “Now we know. It’s inspiring to know that we have customers who are motivated to help and sincerely care about feeding families in the military community.”
    Cashier Jeannette Pass said there was an in-store display promoting the campaign and incentives for employees to tell customers about the campaign.
    “I was a cashier at a register near the campaign’s in-store display,” Pass said. “Customers would ask what the bags were and I could explain how purchasing a bag for $9.99 would help a family.”
    BOSS President Spc. Stephanie Jackson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), said the soldiers coordinated with Fuller to help distribute the donated food.
    “We will be picking up the donations and then distributing them to different locations on post — the barracks, the chapels, various battalions and the housing office,” Jackson said. “I had to go back to the companies for more volunteers to assist.”
    Jackson said the soldier volunteers and BOSS members made an assembly line of the process. She said the food would be taken outside to privately owned vehicles and transported to unit food pantries.
    “We are delivering first to all of the units of the 15th Military Police Brigade,” Jackson said. “We are also making deliveries to the barracks, housing and the chapel.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Volunteer Spc. Akhiba Fewell, a human resource specialist with the 526th MP Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), said she was motivated to help soldiers.
    “This type of campaign hits home because there are soldiers in need of food for their families,” Fewell said. “I work with Jackson and see the work she does with BOSS. I want to support that type of effort, too.”
    Spc. Shanquilla Springs, human resource specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), said she supported the efforts of BOSS as well.
    “I’m not a single soldier, but the work like this they do is important in our community,” Springs said. “I also know of a lot of families who need this food. This is a tangible way of taking care of our own.”
    Sgt. Patrick Arriola, HHC, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, said he had been a member of BOSS for two months. He said volunteering has been part of his life since childhood.
    “I’ve always done lots of volunteering, and it is a good feeling to help others,” Arriola said. “It is especially important to a program like Feds Feed Families because there are many parts involved — from donating the food to delivering it to the food pantries, then ultimately to the soldiers’ families themselves.”
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