CARIBOU, Maine — When people think of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, they think national security and not food security.
But customs officers from Houlton, Fort Fairfield, Van Buren, Madawaska and Fort Kent contributed to the food security of thousands of people in Aroostook County this week.
The officers donated more than 4 tons of nonperishable food to Catholic Charities Maine. The donated items will supplement 24 Aroostook County food pantries from Wytopitlock to St. Francis.
Michelle Benson, Customs and Border Protection public affairs specialist, said Thursday that during the last three months, officers from the Houlton area of responsibility collected and donated 8,964 pounds to Catholic Charities Maine as part of the nationwide 2010 Feds Feed Families Food Drive.
Donations typically are much smaller to food pantries in the summer months and the food is intended to bridge the gap from summer to the holiday seasons, Benson said.
Catholic Charities Home Supplies and Food Bank serves more than 33,200 people through its local food pantries. The organization has been feeding more people during the down economy and has conducted donation drives throughout The County this summer. In 2009 alone, Aroostook County food pantries assisted with feeding 40,262 people.
The federal government kicked off its second annual “Feds Feed Families” food drive in June in response to President Obama’s United We Serve Act. The act called for Americans to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery by serving their communities. The Office of Personnel Management, which is leading the efforts, partnered with other federal agencies and departments to encourage federal employees to donate nonperishable food items to the drive.
Kevin Weeks is the director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection in the Boston office. He noted that “anytime our officers are able to help those in need is a true sentiment of the type of individuals we value as an agency.
“The integrity and determination shown by our officers in assisting the communities we serve is the cornerstone of who we are as an agency and I am proud of what they have accomplished,” he added.
So far, Customs and Border Protection has collected 72,222 pounds of food nationally. The agency hopes to collect 100,000 pounds of food by Sept. 14.