Celebrating its 20th year nationwide and 19th year in Sedalia, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive kicked off Wednesday.
Letter carriers will leave special blue bags in mailboxes for those wishing to donate non-perishable food items. The bags will be picked up Saturday and donated to the Open Door Ministries and Salvation Army food banks. According to the U.S. Postal Service, more than 70 million pounds of food were picked up nationwide in 2011.
Open Door Benevolent Ministries Executive Director Jack Menges said the Stamp Out Hunger drive was an important one for local food banks because many food drives are held in the fall.
“Summer is a big season for us because school is ending and kids are no longer getting their free or reduced lunches,” he said. “So having this in May really helps us get ready for the rush we know is coming.”
The Sedalia Post Office collected about 13,000 pounds of food last year, but Menges said he’s hoping for a bigger haul this year.
“We’d like to see 20,000 pounds but we know food donations are down nationwide,” he said. “I’ve never seen our food levels so low. The economy is mostly to blame, more people need help or aren’t able to give as much as they have in the past.”
“We participate in this food drive every year because it’s a worthy cause, simple as that,” said Sedalia letter carrier and this year’s coordinator of the drive, Julie Taylor. “I know for myself, this food drive is all about the children who will benefit. There are a lot of kids in our area will go to bed hungry when school ends because they don’t have enough to eat. Food drives like this one help to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Menges said Open Door was in need of “everything” from tuna to peanut butter and requested low-sodium products if possible.
“We’ll take whatever is given to us but we do want to keep an eye on health foods too,” he said. “Being able to give out low-sodium or low-sugar products helps keep everyone healthy.”
All food donated will stay in Sedalia but money will go to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, said regional coordinator Darren White.
“Keeping the food in the area is an important part of the food drive,” White said. “If people want to donate money instead or in addition to canned goods, that goes to the Food Bank because we’re able to buy more food at special rates with it.”
White said this is the biggest food drive in the nation and all food collected will be a “great benefit” to area food bank coffers.
“Sedalia has always come out to help those in need,” Menges said. “It’s time to call on their generosity again.”
For more information about the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, go to usps.com.