Postal carriers food drive is Saturday
By Kathy Chaffin
Letter carriers in Salisbury, Spencer and China Grove will be delivering more than mail Saturday. They’ll be participating in “Stamp Out Hunger,” the nation’s largest single-day food drive.
Now in its 16th year, the food drive has collected more than 863 million pounds of food nationwide since its 1993 beginning.
In Rowan County last year, letter carriers and volunteers collected more than 14,000 pounds of food. Though that fed a lot of people, it was 6,000 pounds less than the 20,000 pounds of food collected the year before.
This year, with rising gas and fuel prices taking more of needy families’ money supply, donations are needed even more. If you have a Salisbury, Spencer or China Grove address, you may participate in the food drive by leaving a sturdy bag of nonperishable food ó such as canned soup, vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal ó at your mailbox before Saturday’s regular mail delivery time.
Food items should be in nonbreakable containers such as boxes and cans. The carriers and volunteers will collect the donations and deliver them to Rowan Helping Ministries and the Salvation Army in Salisbury and Main Street Missions in China Grove.
Customers with rural mailboxes are asked to place their donations either in the box with the flag up or hang their donations on the box to make it easier for rural carriers to collect. It is difficult for rural carriers to retrieve items placed on the ground.
Cam Campbell, volunteer program manager for Rowan Helping Ministries, said the Stamp Out Hunger food drive helps stock the ministries’ food pantry through the lean summer months when churches which donate regularly may be busy with other projects.
Last year’s donations, for example, “lasted us until about mid-July,” she said, “and in mid-July, the pantry was bare again.”
Having enough donations to meet the community’s needs is especially important during the summer when hungry children do not have the benefit of the free school lunch program.
Many food drives are also held during the holidays, which helps to keep the pantry stocked through the spring.
Campbell said the strain of higher gas and fuel prices on needy families is reflected in the amount of groceries given out by the Rowan Helping Ministries food pantry.
From July 2007 through April of this year, for example, Campbell said the ministries’ food bank gave out 224,828 pounds of groceries. This was up from 207,877 pounds the previous year, 182,628 pounds the year before that and the 179,121 pounds the year before that.
To give you an idea of how much food that is, she said, “One thousand pounds will fill the back of a pickup truck.”
The average number of pounds given out per day was 1,076 from July 2007 through April 2008. This was up from the 1,004 average given out during the same period last year and the 878 average the previous year and the 888 average the year before that.
The number of families served over the past four years has increased, as well. From July 2007 through April 2008, Campbell said, 4,794 families were served, up from 4,387 for the same time period the previous year, 4,066 the year before that and 3,738 the year before that.
The number of individuals provided food is also up. From July 2007 through April of this year, 10,288 individuals were served, up from 9,967 for the same time period the previous year and 9,800 the year before that. From July 2004 through April 2005, however, 10,847 individuals were served, which is even higher than the number served in the 2007-2008 time period.
The local Association of Letter Carriers is sponsoring a contest this year to help increase donations. Church groups are encouraged to bring items they have collected to the Salisbury Post Office loading dock off Martin Luther King Avenue between 1 and 3 p.m.
The group which brings the largest amount of food by weight will win $125, with the second-place group winning $100 and the third place, $75.
For more information about the Stamp out Hunger effort, ask your letter carrier, contact your post office or log onto www.helpstampouthunger.com. Anyone wishing to volunteer with the food drive may contact Cam Campbell at Rowan Helping Ministries at 704-637-6838.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@ salisburypost.com.