Saturday's "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive Starts at Doorsteps
PORTLAND, Ore. - This week, helping feed people who are hungry in Oregon will be as easy as putting canned food by the mailbox.
Saturday is the 24th year of the "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive, when letter carriers in Oregon and across the country collect nonperishable foods from homes as they deliver mail.
Jim Falvey is Portland branch president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, which partners with food banks on the drive.
"For me, in the 28 years I was a letter carrier, it brought me great joy," says Falvey. "I was tired at the end of the day, because sometimes I picked up a lot of food on my route, but it was a good kind of tired."
Around the state, food is collected and then distributed through Oregon Food Bank's network of partners.
The food drive comes at a critical time since, during the summer, more kids are in need of food without the meals provided at school.
Niki Sampson, executive director of the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank, serves one-in-four households in her poverty-stricken region.
Last year, her organization collected 13,000 pounds of food during the drive, which kept the pantry locations stocked through August.
Sampson says people are surprised to hear that low-income communities are often the most likely to give.
"In small, rural communities, we try and look out for each other," she says. "Actually one of the neighborhoods with the highest rate of poverty is where we get the most food donations."
Stamp Out Hunger is the largest single-day food drive in the country. The food collected in each town stays in that area to benefit those who need it.
Falvey says the National Association of Letter Carriers started the drive because of its members' kinship with local customers.
"When a customer gives you the food, I think that's an affirmation many times from the customer that, 'Hey, you're part of the community. We know you bring us mail, but the Postal Service has always provided a greater service than just delivering the mail,'" says Falvey.
Yellow bags for nonperishable food items will be distributed this week and collected on Saturday, although donations will be accepted in any type of bag or box.