Feds Feed Families results reach new high

The numbers are in! Johnson Space Center raised a total of 72,670 pounds of food donations for the 2012 Feds Feed Families food drive, a record amount compared to previous years. This number surpasses the original goal of 50,000 pounds.

Feds Feed Families was initiated in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama, working with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the Washington D.C. area. It was such a huge success that in 2010, OPM rolled it out nationwide, and the NASA centers got involved.

Click for larger imager
JSC team members gather in front of Building 1 for the ''Stuff-A-Truck'' event on Aug. 17 supporting the Feds Feed Families food drive.
Before and after

The first year, 2010, each center was given a target goal by headquarters that was based on the number of civil servants at the center. The JSC-assigned goal was 8,175 pounds, but more than 27,000 pounds was collected, the most of any NASA center. Starting in 2011, JSC was able to establish its own goal, so something meaningful to the center employees was chosen.

“Since JSC was so focused on the last flight of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP), we based the goal on the payload capacity of the last shuttle flight (as defined by an SSP expert to be 28, 951 pounds),” said Karen Schmalz, manager, Starport/JSC Exchange. “In spite of transition and layoffs, we collected over 44,000 pounds! The guidance from OPM for 2012 was to ‘beat our best.’ In keeping with our standard of raising the bar and the 50th Anniversary of JSC, we chose to set our center goal at 50,000 pounds.”

The event has inspired some friendly rivalry between organizations that have gone as far as creating events and themes to engage JSC team members to participate and compete for the highest number of donations. The Chief Financial Office and White Sands Test Facility have been the strongest contenders in the past. That held true this year also as WSTF (more than 20,000 pounds) and Chief Financial Office (more than 13,000 pounds) were in the top three contributors joined by Engineering Directorate with over 18,000 pounds.

“Friendly competition brings out the best in people, so the challenge by several organizations to beat the LA (Chief Financial Office) team performance has been terrific,” Schmalz said. “It was great to see the Engineering Directorate, ISS, and other organizations that haven’t been large contributors in the past take the challenge. Of course we also greatly appreciate the small teams that on a pound-per-employee basis were also very significant”.


Cornell King, Human Resources representative, organized the “Stuff-A-Truck” event that took place on the morning of Aug. 17 outside Building 1. The event raised 13,000 pounds and included JSC team member volunteers and donations from across the board. Those who swung by enjoyed music, free donuts, coffee and water.

King said he thought, “Why not take one day and ask our Human Resources director to sit in a pick-up truck and work until the bed of the truck was ‘stuffed’ full of non-perishable items by us.” The idea was to get everyone together on one designated day to reach a united goal in a fun and festive environment.

“The event was a huge success with all of the donations not only ‘stuffing the truck,’ but we had to begin filling the food bank’s van as donations continued to pour in,” King said. “All of the directors of the alliance (of organizations) were present, cheering and thanking members of their respective organizations for their donations.”

The number crunching and distribution

It’s a wonder how the JSC organizers were able to keep up with all the donations from across the center.

“With a high-quality, portable scale and a spreadsheet, it isn’t as hard as you might think,” Schmalz said. “I am fortunate this year in having a co-champion, Bridget Montgomery, to help me keep track of all the donations. Several organizations also helped us track internal to their groups.”

Since the challenge is weight-based, canned foods, dried beans, rice and juices are the most popular items donated. Cleaning supplies and toiletry items are also accepted, and such items are often valued because they are not available through the food stamp program. The Houston-area donations go to two local food banks. The primary recipient is the Galveston County Food Bank.

“All of us here at JSC love a worthy challenge, and we set the gold standard for working as a team to achieve our goals,” Schmalz said. “Supporting the food drive is a great opportunity to use that internal drive and teamwork to show the community that NASA is not only great at reaching a challenging technical goal; we are also great neighbors.”

To see the full results of the JSC Feds Feed Families campaign, go to: http://starport.jsc.nasa.gov/Events/

Neesha Hosein
Johnson Space Center, Houston

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Updated: 09/20/2012