Elbit Systems of America: A Triple Threat Against Hunger

Hunger is an issue that’s close to Karen Skjolsvik’s heart. During her childhood, her family struggled to make ends meet. She remembers her mom getting creative with their meals by making sugar sandwiches with white bread, sugar and butter.

“I thought ‘Oh, we were good today! We get sugar sandwiches,’” said Karen, chuckling. “But that was when she was really on her last dollar. There was nothing else in the kitchen.”

Karen is the director of supply chain process improvement for Elbit Systems of America, a technology company with headquarters in Fort Worth. Each year, staff participate in Good Deeds Day, a global movement focused on giving back to local communities. Each office chooses local organizations to support. For Karen, Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) was an easy choice.

“I can’t stand the thought of any hungry adults—especially parents,” said Karen, thinking back to mother’s challenges to provide for her family. In TAFB’s service area, one out of six people face hunger every day.

Last year, Karen coordinated a Good Deeds Day food drive for her company to support TAFB . This year, she wanted to do more and so did staff.

Stepping Things Up in Fight Against Hunger

In addition to holding a food drive, this year company staff volunteered at TAFB and donated through a virtual food drive. Elbit Systems of America donated enough food for 636 meals through the food drive. They also raised enough money to provide access to 9,375 meals through their virtual food drive.

Karen’s colleague Teresa Williams, HR director and chair of the company’s Good Deeds Day committee, said she was impressed by just how far one dollar can go. “A dollar created five nutritious meals. It just blew my mind how that many meals could come from one dollar.”

On April 4, the company brought a team of 52 people to volunteer in TAFB’s Quality Control room. During the month of April, TAFB volunteers sorted and inspected more than 470,000 pounds of food and other vital items. For Shari Clarkson, Elbit Systems of America marketing communications manager, the Quality Control room was a familiar space. During one evening shift, Shari remembers her feet barely touching the ground as she reached into a large box to grab the last few cans from it. “But I loved doing it because I knew at that point someone was going to get food,” she said.

“Keep Someone from Going Hungry”

Like Karen, Shari knows hunger all too well. “I grew up in a very poor family with a single mom. She worked two—sometimes three jobs. It was very often that my brother and I would go without food.”

Because of their mother’s busy schedule, Shari and her brother were often home alone. They did what they could to prepare their own meals with whatever they could find on hand. “We ate a lot of SpaghettiOs,” she said, laughing. “As an adult, remembering my childhood, I see this as an opportunity to help someone that’s in that boat I was—someone that is a hungry latchkey kid. They need that assistance and we can make a difference.”

One out of four children in TAFB’s service area doesn’t know where their next meal will come from. To change that, TAFB provides Food for Kids programs during the school year and summer. Through those programs, children receive nutritious snacks and meals to help bridge the gap in the food they get at home. “Sometimes when children are hungry, they know they are hungry, but they don’t know that there is a different way of life,” said Shari. By donating and volunteering with TAFB, Shari knows she and her team are making a difference. “It’s just a way to give back to keep someone from going hungry.”

Finding out the number of pounds of food the team brought in from their food drive, Shari said, made things even more tangible. “When you put the boxes on the scale, you’re just amazed at the quantity of food you collected and how many people that will actually feed.”

Committed to Caring

Karen said Elbit Systems of America regularly encourages staff to give back to the community. This year’s response was so great that Karen had more people sign up to volunteer than she could allow to come. Moving forward, she and her team hope to do more with TAFB in the fight against hunger.

As Shari noted, we all have a part to play. “These are our neighbors. They are family members. They are the people that are just right down the street from us. By being able to volunteer and give as a company, we are taking care of our family and friends.”

You can help feed hungry people too by donating online, volunteering at TAFB or hosting a food drive or virtual food drive on teamtafb.org. Together, we can make sure no one in our community has to go hungry.

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