The annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers will be held again this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be held on Saturday with mail carriers collecting food at mail boxes on their routes then ensuring the food is delivered to food banks an pantries in their communities. Since it began 30 years ago, the food drive has collected nearly 2 billion pounds of food in the United States.
The food drive is a one-day event for the community to have an opportunity to help hungry individuals and families, said Maureen Quinlan, development communications director at the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank,
Leading up to he food drive, mail carriers will leave a postcard with information and a paper bag in mail boxes for community members to donate healthy, non-perishable food items. David Hill, president of Union President Branch 1025, said the letter carriers will pick-up the food from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and carry it to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank for distribution to pantries. Hill said people can put their food donations in a box or bag near the mailbox, take it to the nearest post office or take it to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank,325 NW 10th Ave. .
“Our goal is for every house to donate at least one item,” said Hill. ‘To have every single person donate what they can, we will make sure we cover all on that day,”
Hill said if everyone donated one item in Gainesville – 45,000 food items will be collected. “It will make a huge impact,” Hill said.
“We benefit from the Food Drive,” said Quinlan. “The food comes here and we distribute it.”
The food donations collected locally will stay local and be distributed through the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, Catholic Charities, Food for Kids and Gainesville Community Ministry, Quinlan said.
Although COVID 19 impacted the food banks and pantries in a major way, Quinlan said the Bread of the Mighty stayed open “because hunger does not stop.”
“It was more challenging for food pantries — how to serve people in need,” Quinlan said. “The need increased during COVID. It was hard.”
A goal was not set for the food drive this year because of the pandemic. Also, things have changed from 30 years ago and now the focus is on partnering with social media to get the word out, Quinlan said
“The timing is important with food banks, pantries and shelters running low on donations for the summer when schools are closed and children are home and parents are struggling to feed their families,” said Hill, adding mail carriers see hunger and the areas without resources every day.
Bread of the Mighty was established in 1987, and serves Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette and Levy Counties.
“The takeaway is hunger affects the whole community,” Quinlan said. “We need the pantries to get food to the people. We need volunteers, we need donors, we need local officials to recognize hunger is an issue in the community.”
“There is no easy solution, but together we can provide hope and help to those in need,” Quinlan said.