People often think about those in need mainly during the holiday season when volunteers stand in front of stores asking for donations, but members of the Fort Huachuca community can still go hungry no matter what time of year it is. Since 1988, the Chaplain’s Food Locker, or CFL, has been helping Families put food on the table when money is tight.
The food locker receives donated goods from churches, individuals and businesses, such as the commissary, to stock its shelves. On average, the CFL serves 40 Families a month. While receiving enough goods to stock the facility is a challenge, volunteers face another one – weeding out the expired non-perishables.
“We need to be very careful to make sure nothing is outdated. We cannot put anything outdated on the shelves, so that is one thing we are very cautious of,” said Patricia Reed, a chapel volunteer.
Reed has been assisting with the program for several years. The program also has many volunteers who also sort and organize each category of products, watching for outdated items.
While non-perishable items are widely acceptable, the CFL does contain freezers and refrigerators. Currently, the program accepts hot dogs, ground beef, ham and whole cut-up chickens. Reed mentioned that hotdogs are considered a popular item, especially among Families with children.
Aside from frozen foods, the food locker is currently looking for the following canned items: meats, fruits, tuna, salmon and dinners such as canned beef stew. A donation of canned vegetables is also always welcome.
Condiments such as salad dressings, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup are needed, along with boxed cereal, unprepared hot cereal, boxed dinner helpers, coffee, tea, juice, powdered drink mixes and powdered milk.
The Chaplain’s Food Locker also accepts items people do not think about when giving to a food drive. These include dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, bleach, fabric softeners, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers in all sizes and baby wipes.
A Soldier is referred to the program after first meeting with his or her unit commander, first sergeant or unit chaplain. Afterwards, the Soldier fills out a form for the Chaplain’s Office records. The CFL is actually opened after the Soldier coordinates with the unit chaplain to pick up items.
During the furlough, Department of Defense civilians in need are also invited to use the Chaplain’s Food Locker and can coordinate use directly with chapel personnel.
The 2013 Feds Feed Families worldwide commissary food drive campaign is currently in full swing through Aug. 31. Federal employees are invited to donate food items. Right now, in addition to helping Soldiers, DoD employees will be helping less fortunate DoD civilians in need of assistance during the furlough.
At Fort Huachuca, the Feds Feed Families collection box is located just inside the front entry of the store, according to Judy Mendez, commissary director. All items are donated to the Chaplain’s Food Locker.
To make a donation or for DoD civilians to directly coordinate a pick-up, stop by Room 6, Main Post Chapel, or call 533.4748 for more information.