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"Stamping Out Hunger" in Illinois Communities

PHOTO: This Saturday is the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, the largest in the country. It's an important weekend for food pantries in many Illinois towns. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.
PHOTO: This Saturday is the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, the largest in the country. It's an important weekend for food pantries in many Illinois towns. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.
May 8, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Mothers Day weekend has become synonymous with the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, when letter carriers from across the nation collect food donations on their mail delivery routes. In Illinois, it's a critical weekend for food banks, since the food collected locally stays in the area.

Nobody sees poverty and the need for food better than the letter carrier, said Ken Christy, state president of the Illinois Association of Letter Carriers.

"He's there every day and sees maybe the hungry child or the family that needs some help," Christy said. "And if we believe in the American way, I think that's what you want to do -- help your neighbor. "

Stamp Out Hunger Day is Saturday. People can set donations of nonperishable food items in or near their mailboxes, and letter carriers will collect them. It's best to donate food in cans or boxes rather than glass.

Christy said spring is a good time for the food drive because pantries are typically not stocked up the way they are during the holiday season. He said he's seen the difference the donations make.

"When I first participated in the food drive," he said, "the very first year when I delivered 70,000 pounds to my local food bank, the director sat down and cried because she had one can of food left in her whole food bank."

Triplett said Illinoisans in need of food have many different stories and include single mothers, people who've lost their jobs, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

In its 23rd year, the letter carriers' food drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL