JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Letter carriers across the country will be collecting non-perishable food donations Saturday from their customers, who are asked to leave the donations at their mailboxes.
It’s the 31st anniversary of the National Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
The donations will be given directly to local food pantries to provide food to people in the Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia area who need help.
The local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 53, said some 42 million Americans are unsure where their next meal is coming from. More than 12 million of those are children.
While most food banks receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, many pantries are depleted by springtime, which is why the food drive is held yearly during the second Saturday of May.
Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, BEAM, will be one of the recipients of the donations again this year.
“The letter carrier campaign is our single biggest community food drive,” explained Lori Richards, executive director of BEAM.
She hopes BEAM will receive the equivalent of 12,000 meals on Saturday with donations from Beaches residents. BEAM offers food, rent assistance and other services to Beaches residents who cannot afford to buy food or to pay their electric and rent bills.
Inflation and the pandemic have increased the need for food donations.
“We had a 20% increase in the amount of food we provided last year and this year has not seen any slowdown,” said Richards.
Here is a suggested list of non-perishable food and toiletries needed by BEAM clients:
- Pasta Sauce
- Canned beans
- Shelf Stable meat (tuna, Vienna sausage, Spam and ham)
- Shelf Stable Milk
- Bar soap
Jim Thigpenn, president of Branch 53 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, asks that residents leave their canned goods or dry goods at their mailbox on Saturday in plastic bags in case it rains.
“The carriers will deliver their routes and pick up the food,” he explained.
The food drive is an important community service for letter carriers.
“We have always felt like we are a quasi-member of the family. We’ve watched kids grow up. We’ve watched kids go to college, watched the grandkids come home,” he explained about their customers.
Now letter carriers want to help their customers, some of whom may be hungry.
“That’s what we do is community service,” he said.
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