May 14 marked the 24th anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving — the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This year, the HACAP Food Reservoir received 27,819 pounds of food from the drive. On behalf of the HACAP leadership, Food Reservoir team and our partner agencies thank you to the letter carriers and their families, union members and their families as well as everyone in the community who donated non-perishable food items for this important food drive.
Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many, hunger. So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from residents. The HACAP Food Reservoir distributes all food donations we receive to our area non-profit Partner Agencies (food pantries and feeding programs) serving who need our help. Last year, we collected more than 22,000 pounds of food in Linn County. Over the course of its 23-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food nationally, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The need for food donations is great. Locally, 12.2 percent of our population is food insecure. Currently, 1 in 5 people in our own communities are unsure where their next meal is coming from and 1 out of 4 children right here in Eastern Iowa go to bed hungry. Nationally, 16 million children’s hunger impacts their overall health and ability to perform in school. And over 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help.
This food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and winter 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. Community members who participated in the Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive generously left out a bag of non-perishable food items by their mailboxes and their letter carrier did the rest. It’s a heavy load to fight food insecurity. Thank you to all you joined in this great day of giving to help our fight to end hunger in Iowa.
• Linda Gorkow is HACAP’s Food Reservoir director. More information: www.hacap.org