MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon letter carriers will be collecting food donations this Saturday for the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
The program, in its 22nd year, is co-sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Campbell Soup Co., and several other organizations.
It is a national program that all Mt. Vernon city letter carriers — and most rural carriers — take part in, said Garry Rightnowar, supervisor of the Mt. Vernon Post Office.
Last year’s Mt. Vernon collection brought in about 3,400 pounds of food,
which was disbursed to local food pantries, churches and shelters, he said.
Over the years, the donation amount locally has fluctuated between 2,800 pounds and nearly 4,000 pounds.
“I was shocked by how much we brought in,” Rightnowar said. “It’s giving food to the needy.”
As part of the initiative, the Post Office mails out cards to residents in the Mt. Vernon zip code, seeking non-perishable food items like soup, canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, cereal and more.
Residents are asked to place the donations in a sturdy bag next to their mailbox.
Then on a designated pick-up day, letter carriers retrieve the donations while making their daily deliveries. Saturday is the pick-up day for this year’s drive.
Once the donated items are picked up, they are brought to the Mt. Vernon Post Office, where the food is unloaded and separated to be disbursed evenly.
Later on that same day, representatives from local pantries and charity groups come to the Post Office to collect the food.
Rightnowar said roughly 10 to 11 Mt. Vernon area agencies received food from last year’s drive.
“We try to weigh it up (and) disburse it evenly,” Rightnowar said.
The spring and summer months are a crucial time for food pantries in terms of the need for donations, said Linda Ryan, office manager for Central Christian Church, which runs a food pantry.