'Stamp Out Hunger' campaign will help fill local food banks

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Saturday, May 9, mail carriers across the county will be participating in "Stamp Out Hunger," an annual food drive launched nearly two decades ago to stock the nation's food banks and pantries.

Sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service and letter carriers' unions, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive has been the best in the nation, collecting almost one billion pounds of donations and delivering the goods to those in need in local communities.

It's become the world's largest, single-day charitable food event.

Locally, postal patrons can make a difference for thousands of Arkansans by taking nonperishable food items to their post office this week, or by setting the items next to, hanging from, or placed inside their mailboxes on Saturday before their letter carrier arrives.

Once at the post office, the items will be sorted and then delivered to an area food bank or pantry.

In Green Forest, rural carriers will be picking up non-perishable food items that are placed in or near mailboxes. Food collected at the boxes and dropped off at the post office will go to the Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry, located at the United Methodist Church of Green Forest.

In Berryville, both city and rural mail carriers will be picking up food on Saturday as they make their rounds. All of those donations, plus items left at the post office, will go to the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank.

Postal patrons served by Eureka Springs, Beaver and Holiday Island can take their items to those post offices, or set them in, or hang them from mailboxes in time for Saturday's pickup.

All of the items picked up or dropped off at those locations will be delivered to the Flint Street Food Bank in Eureka Springs.

Last year, letter carriers collected a record 73.1 million pounds of food for the needy from postal customers, the fifth consecutive year that totals topped 70 million pounds.

Millions of people are struggling in this economy; thousands have been laid off and struggling to put nutritional meals on the table while managing to pay their essential bills.

Hunger is all around; more than 17 percent of Arkansans live below the poverty line -- that means that one in six struggle.

Around late spring, most food banks begin running out of donations received during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods. This is an opportunity to help re-stock the shelves.

Over 125 million post cards, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company will be mailed to postal customers to remind them of the drive.

Public Service Announcements featuring movie and television stars David Arquette and Courteney Cox, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters, are being made available throughout the country. Valpak Direct Marketing Systems is focusing 40 million of its envelopes on encouraging food donations and Valassis is having 85 million of its mail-delivered Red Plum wraps include promotions for the drive.

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