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NICHD Offsets Food Bank Shortfall

The Sept. 11 attacks have left area food banks in short supply, according to an article in the Washington Post. Although Americans contributed record amounts to victims and their families, donations to area food banks and other charities dropped sharply.

Touched by the news article, NICHD staffer Mona Rowe organized a food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank, coordinating placement of donation boxes throughout the institute, encouraging fellow staffers to contribute, and coordinating food deliveries and pick ups.

"In difficult times, people like to feel that they're pitching in to help," said Rowe, deputy director of the Office of Science Policy, Analysis and Communications. "Our effort gives everyone the chance to contribute."

According to the Capital Area Food bank, food donations were down 22 percent from Sept. 11 through Oct. 11, compared to the same time last year. During the same time, the need for food donations increased, particularly after the layoffs by regional employers such as Reagan National Airport. This month alone, the food bank distributed 10 percent more food than last month.

"We've gotten a great response from the Post article, but donations are still down," said Monica Testa, a spokeswoman for the food bank. "This is the time of year when we usually generate the income that sustains us through the rest of the year."

Along with Rowe, other NICHD staffers are striving to meet the shortfall. Steven Klein, a program officer in the Developmental Biology, Genetics and Teratology Branch, is coordinating the food drive at the institute's offices in 6100 Executive Blvd. He collects donations and sends weekly email reminders to NICHD staffers in the building, asking them to pick up a little extra when they visit the grocery store.

"The NIH staff here have been extremely responsive to the needs of the food bank," he said. "We're all feeling the need to help one another now, and this food drive is a perfect means of expression."

NICHD staffers as well as those from other parts of NIH may bring food items to the food boxes on the second floor of the A wing in Bldg. 31 or to floors 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 at 6100. NIH'ers at the Poolesville facility may bring food donations to boxes located in buildings 110, 112 and T18B or coordinate with Peggy Wagner at 496-7037.

The Capital Area Food Bank is most in need of canned meat, fish and poultry, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, canned soup, and dry pasta. Others who would like to organize a food drive may contact the Capital Area Food Bank at (202) 526-5344 (www.capitalareafoodbank.org).


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