Before you hit the lake, set out the groceriesThis weekend is a vitally important time to help stock the local Salvation Army food shelf by remembering to put out non-perishable food items for the annual National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Shad Raps? Check.
Ultra-filament line? Check.
Mother’s Day card? Check.
Sunday dinner reservations? Check.
What could possibly be missing as you prepare for this very busy, very exciting weekend ahead?
How about the groceries? This weekend is a vitally important time to help stock the local Salvation Army food shelf by remembering to put out non-perishable food items for the annual National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday. Last year, the local letter carriers collected some 12,500 pounds of food.
According to Shaye Moris, executive director of the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, demand at area food shelves has not yet leveled off, and May is a good time to help before an influx of families surge as the summer months begin and school lets out for the year.
“Every month we see the statistics from our 35 area partner food shelves and are surprised that demand has not yet leveled off,” said Moris, who stated May is a good time to stock area food shelves since summer typically yields additional visitors.
“People often think that the holidays are a busy time but summer months can be especially difficult on families when kids are missing school breakfast and lunch,” she said.
To keep up with demand, the Salvation Army of Carlton County is asking the community to help “Stamp Out Hunger” by placing a bag of non-perishable food items next to their mailboxes or in collection bins at their local post offices prior to 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12. Letter carriers, assisted by local volunteers, will pick up the donations.
Jacki Meyer, administrator of social services at the Cloquet office of the Salvation Army, said the agency’s food shelf is “very, very low” at the current time and said usage has increased 40 percent since this time last year. She said some 300 families a month are accessing the food shelf at the present time and she sees that number increasing on a regular basis.
The Food Shelf is especially in need of rice, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, tuna, canned chicken and canned fruit.
Colleen Peterson of the Cloquet Post Office stressed that folks should first make certain, however, that they don’t set out any food that has an expired label because that food will have to be disposed of and cannot be used.
“This is one of our most crucial food drives,” stated Meyer, “– one that will help us get through until the Boy Scout drive in October.”
This is the national food drive’s 20th anniversary. Since its start, over 1 billion pounds of food have been collected for the nation’s food banks and food shelves.
Campbell Soup Company is a major corporate sponsor of the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive. In addition to helping raise awareness, the company has also pledged to earmark an additional 1 million pounds of canned food nationally to the drive. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) supports the drive by providing nearly 15 million paper bags in the 10 hungriest states, and additional media support comes from Valpak Direct marketing, which promotes the drive on over 44 million envelopes delivered to postal customers, as well as International Paper, who donates paper and prints the AARP bags.
Locally, the drive also relies on the support of the United Way of Carlton County.
“The United Way has always partnered with the NALC food drive,” said Dorine Houck, executive director of the United Way of Carlton County. “Our job is to help round up volunteers for both the food drive itself and for the Salvation Army as the food is delivered.”
Houck said approximately 30-35 volunteers assist with the local food drive each year.
At last week’s meeting of the Cloquet City Council, Mayor Bruce Ahlgren declared Saturday, May 12, as “Food Drive Day” in Cloquet to support the efforts of the local Letter Carriers Association in their fight against hunger.
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