By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon letter carriers will be toting an extra bag or two on May 11 when the local post office participates in the Stamp Out Hunger initiative.
Now in its 21st year, the annual food drive co-sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Campbell Soup Co. has grown from a regional to national effort that provides assistance to millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table.
The Stamp Out Hunger food drive, held on the second Saturday in May, has become the nation's largest single-day food drive benefitting Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. In 2012, Americans donated 70 million pounds of food, which marked the ninth consecutive year at least 70 million pounds were collected by letter carriers.
"We're incredibly excited for the 21st year of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive," said Postmaster Garry Rightnowar. "We're asking residents for their support to make this year the most successful in the drive's history. It's so easy to make a donation: simply leave a bag of non-perishable food items by your mailbox to help neighbors in need. That's all it takes."
Residents are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable food items, such as soup, canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, and rice or cereal next to their mailbox prior to the time of regular mail delivery on May 11.
Rightnowar said several municipalities in the region, including Fairfield, Centralia, West Frankfort, and Mt. Vernon, participate in the event. Rural carriers will not be participating in the event, however, county residents who wish to make food donations may do so by dropping off items at the old post office location at 1301 Broadway.
Campbell Soup Co. and its partners are producing post cards and shopping bags that will be delivered to more than 75 million homes across the country as a reminder to participate in the drive. Campbell will again support this year's food collection effort by donating one million pounds of food to Feeding America member food banks, a news release stated.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they live at risk of hunger. Nearly 17 million children in America are struggling with hunger, the USDA estimates.
Feeding America provides food assistance to 37 million Americans every year. According to the organization one in eight Americans relies on the organization for food and groceries, and the organization distributes nearly 3.4 billion pounds of donated food and grocer products annually, including more than 800 million pounds of fresh produce.
For more information about the food drive in Mt. Vernon you may visit www.helpstampouthunger.com.