Soldiers assigned to 16th Military Police Brigade, completed the second annual canned food drive for 2nd Harvest Food Bank, Fayetteville, Nov. 19.

The 2nd Harvest is a collection point for food donations including refrigerated and frozen items, canned goods and toiletries.

The humanitarian relief organization serves seven counties of North Carolina through 240 food pantry and soup kitchen partners. They do one distribution open to the public each month of government commodities on site at 406 Deep Creek Road, serving an average of 180 to 200 households in a day.

“We literally serve as a warehouse and distribute the food through our distributing agency partners like local food pantries and soup kitchens,” said Patra Roberts, a food sourcing coordinator for 2nd Harvest.

Roberts coordinates donations from local food manufacturers and grocery chains in addition to organizing food drives.“I call myself the professional beggar,” said Roberts. “I beg for food or for funds to purchase food to distribute to the community.”

Retail partners make up more than 60 percent of donations, with the balance coming from food processors and food drives.

Soldiers from 16th MP Brigade, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, and other organizations volunteer regularly working with 2nd Harvest in addition to food drives.

“I contacted the food bank three years ago when I was the company commander for the 65th MP Co,” said Maj. Joseph A. Tull Jr., who’s assigned to 16th MP Bde. operations. “We completed a food drive in 2011 and it was a big success.”

That success has grown from a company-sized project to participation from the 503rd MP Battalion and 16th MP Brigade organizations.

“This year I offered a challenge to the companies and sections to see who could raise the most food donations by weight to build esprit de corps and unit cohesion within our organization, while expressing our collective thankfulness (and sharing with) the less fortunate within our community,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Sivak, command sergeant major, 16th MP Bde.

“It also gives our Soldiers the opportunity to express the Army’s value of selfless service.”

“The brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company raised 480 pounds of donated food, more than any other company by more than 100 pounds,” said 1st Sgt. Joseph J. Palmer, HHC. “That equates to an average of nearly three and a half pounds per person in the organization.”

The 16th MP Bde. collectively donated 1,244 pounds of canned and dry goods to 2nd Harvest Nov. 19, at the end of the three-week food drive.

“We appreciate the military support,” said Roberts. “The Soldiers do a wonderful job from week to week.”