Hunger is a reality for many in the community. The food pantries that help many in need have shelves in need of replenishing.
To help restock those shelves, the National Association of Letter Carriers will be holding its 22nd annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 10.
Virginia Coleman, who is coordinating the local food drive, noted often letter carriers travel through the community coming face to face with the reality of too many in hunger.
On the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect nonperishable food donations from customers.
Food collected by the local carriers will be given to local food pantries to provide food to the people in Cleveland who are in need of help.
“I have a desire to help people. See that they are fed — see to their needs,” she said.
Most of the letter carriers have the same desire, she said: to help those who need assistance.
“It is a time we can help our community,” she said.
Coleman said last year the letter carriers collected more than 74 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people.
Over the course of its 21-year history, the drive has collected well more than 1 billion pounds of food, thanks to a Postal Service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Coleman explained the need for food donations is great.
“Currently, 49 million Americans — 1 in 6 — are unsure where their next meal is coming from. About 16 million are children who feel hunger’s impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school.
“And nearly 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help,” she said.
The majority of donations to food pantries are in the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.
It is fairly simple to help this effort to Stamp Out Hunger, Coleman said. Residents may leave a nonperishable food donation in a bag by their mailbox on Saturday, May 10.
She said people can hang the bag on the mailbox or place it beside the mailbox. The letter carrier will do the rest.
She said hampers will be in the post office about a week before the drive so people can drop off food donations.
Anyone who forgets to put their donation out can bring it by the post office or leave it by the mailbox for a day or two later.
An information card and a sponsor-donated plastic bag will be delivered to the mailboxes as a reminder the week before.
Coleman said churches and nonprofit organizations who would like to receive the food donations to fill their pantries are urged to contact her at 473-9272 between 7:30 and 9:15 a.m. By 9:15 she is beginning her postal route, so it is important to call her early.
“Letter carriers invite you to join in America’s great day of giving and help us in our fight to end hunger,” Coleman said.