KLAMATH FALLS, OR, UNITED STATES
Story by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
The173rd Fighter Wing Health Education Awareness Team partnered with the local Gospel Mission to bring 390 boxes of fresh produce to the base to distribute to the Airmen. This was done through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, developed to offset the impacts of COVID-19 on local farmers who were left without means to ship their good to the market after the virus interrupted the food supply chain.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased meat, produce and dairy products from local farmers in order to keep it from going to waste, to help farmers survive financially, and to help fight food insecurity in the local community.
“Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products,” said Jenn Green, a member of the 173rd Fighter Wing Resiliency Team and director of psychological health.
In turn, that food is finding its way to households around the country and here in the Klamath Basin. Wing Airmen stopped by the Resiliency Operations Center and picked up a box of locally grown produce, and many of them were able to get an additional box for a neighbor in need.
“I was really impressed with the quality of the produce,” said Staff Sgt. Penny Snoozy, a member of the command support staff team. “I was also able to take a box to my babysitter’s family and they were really grateful for the extra food.”
In addition to helping people with food, the program has another aim–to help forestall the further collapse of the food supply chain.
“With no contracts farmers would be hard pressed to find good reason to continue the food production process,” said Major Kraig Kroeker, the wing chaplain and member of the resiliency team. “This food was originally scheduled to go to restaurants and businesses who had to cut orders due to COVID closures.”
For many Airmen they say it was no trouble to lend a hand. “I was happy to do my part!” said Snoozy.
Currently, another distribution for base members is planned for the week of June 22-26, with more possible beyond that.