Team Mildenhall Food Pantry to help Airmen in need

Christina Ocampo, left, 752nd Special Operations Group secretary; Sarrah Hall, center, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. Dustin Hall, 752nd SOG superintendent, and Catherine Heemsoth, spouse of Master Sgt. Joshua Heemsoth, 352nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, take a break from stocking the shelves at the new Team Mildenhall Food Pantry to pose for a photo Aug. 3, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The food pantry, put together to help Airmen and their dependents in need, is scheduled to open Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Christina Ocampo, left, 752nd Special Operations Group secretary; Sarrah Hall, center, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. Dustin Hall, 752nd SOG superintendent, and Catherine Heemsoth, spouse of Master Sgt. Joshua Heemsoth, 352nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, take a break from stocking the shelves at the new Team Mildenhall Food Pantry to pose for a photo Aug. 3, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The food pantry, put together to help Airmen and their dependents in need, is scheduled to open Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Christina Ocampo, 752nd Special Operations Group secretary, stocks shelves full of baby items at the Team Mildenhall Food Pantry Aug. 3, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The pantry, scheduled to open Aug. 7 at 2 p.m., has a huge supply of food, household and personal items available to Airmen and dependents in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Christina Ocampo, 752nd Special Operations Group secretary, stocks shelves full of baby items at the Team Mildenhall Food Pantry Aug. 3, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The pantry, scheduled to open Aug. 7 at 2 p.m., has a huge supply of food, household and personal items available to Airmen and dependents in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

U.S. Airman 1st Class Austin Morgan, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron Structures apprentice, finishes putting up a sign for the Team Mildenhall Food Pantry Aug. 3, 2017, ready for the grand opening on RAF Mildenhall, England. The 100th CES is one of many agencies, including first sergeants and key spouses, who have worked hard to get the food pantry up and running for Team Mildenhall Airmen and their dependents in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere

U.S. Airman 1st Class Austin Morgan, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron Structures apprentice, finishes putting up a sign for the Team Mildenhall Food Pantry Aug. 3, 2017, ready for the grand opening on RAF Mildenhall, England. The 100th CES is one of many agencies, including first sergeants and key spouses, who have worked hard to get the food pantry up and running for Team Mildenhall Airmen and their dependents in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The Team Mildenhall Food Pantry is scheduled to open Aug. 7, 2017, to help Airmen in need.

A joint effort by first sergeants, spouses and leadership, the idea came about when Sarrah Hall, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. Dustin Hall, 752nd Special Operations Group superintendent, and Christina Ocampo, 752nd SOG secretary, tried to donate food in the tri-base area last holiday season.

“Christina had organized collections of boxes of food donations, but when we tried to donate them, it was not easy,” said Sarrah. “We really wanted our own pantry, not just because it was hard for us to donate free food, but we figured that if it was hard for us to just give free food, then it must be really frustrating for Airmen in need, and their families.

“From a chief’s and Air Force perspective, Dustin (Chief Hall) explained that although it was great we wanted to do this, they had to assess if there was actually a need for it,” said Sarrah.

Each year, first sergeants at RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell team up for Operation Warm Heart during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and donate either a basket or commissary gift card to those in need.

“We usually average around 200 to 225 people who request assistance during that time,” said Master Sgt. Michael Jackson, 321st Special Tactics Squadron first sergeant. “If there’s that many people who are requesting assistance over the holidays, there’s got to be a need.”

The food pantry will be open to all Airmen and their dependents, regardless of rank.

“Anyone who might be in a bad financial situation, or someone who is brand new and has been burdened by the cost of PCSing, any situation where someone finds that they cannot feed their family and can’t get by, then we want to help them,” said Sarrah.

A food drive was held at the commissary to build up initial supplies for the pantry. The pantry will be restocked regularly in order to provide a variety of items to those in need.

“We wanted it to be as simple as possible,” explained Sarrah. “We didn’t want something that was volunteer-based and then have it closed at certain times because no volunteers were available to let people in. The way we plan to run it – when those in need tell us they need our help in getting items from the food pantry – means it’s always open and accessible.”

To utilize the food pantry, or to make a donation, contact any first sergeant, or chiefs’ group member.

Items accepted for donation include condiments, spreads, cooking oils; canned goods; boxes and baking items; boxed wholegrain pasta, rice and beans; pasta sauces; breakfast items; drinks; baby items, including diapers, formula and food; cleaning supplies and personal care items.

The food pantry is located in Bldg. 215, Rooms 118 and 119, across from the RAF Mildenhall Launderette.

For more information, call Christina Ocampo at DSN 238-7277, commercial 01638 547277, or contact any Team Mildenhall first sergeant.