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Food bank aids Airmen in ‘tight’ financial spots

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Air Force takes care of its own in many ways, one of which is through the food bank.

Nobody should ever have to decide whether to pay a bill or buy food, but sometimes that is just the situation that Airmen are put in, said Mrs. DeeDee Orsak, Airman’s Attic manager.

First sergeants oversee the food bank, which is a pantry of non-perishable foods that is available to all non-meal card Airmen.

“It’s all part of helping families stretch their paychecks or fill in the gaps between pay periods,” she said.

The food bank program includes more than just a room full of non-perishable food. First sergeants have a budget which they write checks for perishable items such as fresh produce.

The food pantry has pretty much everything, said Master Sgt. Ricky Butler, 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, including things people might not think of like diapers and baby food.

And the goodwill goes beyond the first sergeants.

All the food and money is donated from organizations around base, said Sergeant Butler. The officer and enlisted spouses clubs constantly provide food donations and raise money, and other groups like Airman Leadership School and the We Care Team. Squadrons also host food drives.

All this giving makes it hard to believe there is anything negative about the whole program, but, as Sergeant Butler explains, the largest hurdle to overcome is the fact that few people know about the food bank and even fewer people use it.

In addition, many people don’t take into account the added food costs that the summer brings, said Mrs. Orsak, a mother of four and her family’s primary grocery shopper. “Our grocery bill drastically increases in the summer when school is out.”

She said each child eats an average of two meals per day during the school year, which in her case can be a considerable added expense.

Sergeant Butler said any individual needing to use the food bank or wishing to donate may contact their first sergeants.

“Anyone can have an off month,” said Mrs. Orsak, “The food bank is an awesome service, and I wish more people realized that we had it and that it is available to them.”