Today marks the start of a new week for sales at most local grocery stores, and the timing is perfect.
On Saturday, people across the nation will donate millions of pounds of food to the 20th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The premise is simple: Fill a bag (or two!) with nonperishable items to donate to local food banks and leave it in front of your mailbox. Your local postal worker will pick it up.
See? Super easy.
The annual food drive is especially important to Emergency Food Network, which distributes food to 67 food banks, meal sites and shelters in Pierce County. Last year, the Lakewood-based organization distributed 13.1 million pounds of food worth $16.5 million on a $2.2 million budget.
“This food drive allows us to have a supply of shelf-stable food that we don’t usually have,” said Executive Director Helen McGovern.
Most needed are foods that provide protein: peanut butter, canned soup and chili and tuna fish, as well as baby formula. Peanut butter, in particular, has become very expensive.
“People who have low incomes can usually buy themselves Top Ramen or macaroni and cheese,” McGovern said. “It’s the other things that are difficult to purchase.”
The food drive’s official website also suggests donating bottled juice, vegetables, pasta, cereal and rice – but nothing that has expired or is in a glass container.
McGovern said that local residents are known for their giving spirit in the food drive. EFN is hoping to collect 300,000 pounds of food on Saturday.
“People are often so generous, with excellent choices,” she said. “It’s not the food we usually get.”
The majority of food collected in Pierce County will be taken to EFN and the food banks will pick up and distribute loads based on the clients they serve.
McGovern stressed that regardless of where it comes from – not every town in Pierce County has a post office – the food will be distributed countywide.
“If you’re in a big urban area, that post office may get a lot of food, but we have to make sure it’s a Pierce County food drive,” she said. “And the need is huge in rural areas."