“I can’t speak, I am so excited to be here,” says Gaylord Tissueboo, 75. “These seniors are so proud to be here at the food bank today. Being able to meet the President of the United States makes them feel like they are really somebody.”
As hundreds of children and seniors visited the Capital Area Food Bank the day before Thanksgiving to receive special food for the holidays, they got a very special surprise.
The volunteers helping to distribute the Thanksgiving fare were President and Mrs. Obama, their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and Mrs. Robinson.
“When I go home and tell my mother I met the president, she’s not going to believe it,” says Juelz, 10, whose school participates in the Capital Area Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program.
Before beginning his volunteering, part of his annual service project, Barack Obama greeted food bank staff with gratitude for their work year-long.
“Thank you for the great work that you’re doing. And now you’re going to put me to work, right?”
The First Family handed out fresh produce, presidential candies and gift cards to each senior and child who stood in line.
Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, placed recipe cards into the bags with the ingredients for sweet potato curry.
Strong show of support
A group of 14 veterans representing The Mission Continues, an organization composed of post-9/11 veterans who are awarded community service fellowships, worked alongside the president.
“This is the third year in a row he has chosen the Capital Area Food Bank to volunteer his time just before Thanksgiving,” says Nancy E. Roman, President and CEO. “That’s the clearest, strongest show of support of our efforts to solve hunger I could hope for,” she said of his Wednesday visit.
CAFB has more than 500 partner agencies in the region. They come to our huge distribution center to pick-up healthy food, which they then bring back to seniors, children and families in need. The same thing happened Wednesday, except that instead of selecting food from our wide shopping area, they were handed pre-prepared packages of food — by the President of the United States!
Barbara Byrd, 72, shook the president’s hand, and thanked him for his support. He graciously smiled. Awestruck, she said that as a woman who receives food through the Brown Bag Program, she was happy to see him volunteering at the food bank. He thanked her for her kind words and then chided, “You’re not going to let go of my hand, are you?”
Perhaps the president keeps coming back because he knows that more than 3,000 seniors are served by our Senior Brown Bag program, and that our Kids Cafe program serves an average of 2,800 children in 80 locations in the region and that our Weekend Bag program provides supplemental groceries for children to take home to their families.
Mr. Obama’s continued support goes beyond the hours he spends volunteering at our facility.
“The President sent a powerful message on behalf of those struggling with hunger in difficult times,” Roman says. It reinforces the importance of solving hunger one child at a time, one senior at a time.”