To combat hunger in our community on May 9, residents only have to take a few steps outside their front door. By walking to their mailbox and leaving a bag of food for their neighbors in need, they will be helping to alleviate the problem of hunger, which unfortunately, is widespread in Polk County.
On Saturday, May 9, the United States Postal Service of Polk County is holding their 23rd annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. On this day, letter carriers will collect non-perishable food items from their daily routes. In Lakeland and Winter Haven, donations will be coordinated through Agape Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, and will be redistributed through a network of nearly 200 partner agencies.
One in six of our Polk County neighbors are struggling to put food on the table. 78% of our school children are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs. This special one-day food drive is one simple way to make a difference in our community.
“Last year, we collected 75,000 pounds of food and we owe it all to our local letter carriers, volunteers and the people in our community who left a bag of food by their mailbox,” said Kim Long, Director of Agape Food Bank. “This kind of community support provides hope to our seniors, children and families – over 100,000 of our neighbors – who don’t know where their next nutritious meal will come from.”
Nationwide, the food drive has collected over one billion pounds of food during the one day collection held each year since 1993. This is the largest one day food drive in the country.
“We’re in the neighborhood. We see the need,” said John Mitchel, Vice President at Branch 1779 of the National Association of Letter Carriers and local food drive coordinator for this special one-day event.
“Every box, bag and can of food counts. They all make a difference and help us to prevent one more person from going to sleep hungry,” he said.
When you are shopping for groceries this week, remember to add an extra can of vegetables, fruit, tuna and peanut butter to help us Stamp Out Hunger. Our most needed food items are canned goods, including: meat (tuna, chicken, etc.), soups (beef stew, chicken noodle, etc.), veggies (green beans, corn, etc.), fruit (peaches, pears, etc.), pasta (whole wheat), rice and beans, dry cereal, shelf stable milk and peanut butter. No glass, please.
The Agape Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, is a food distribution warehouse in Lakeland, Florida serving nearly two hundred non-profit partner agencies in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. It is part of the national Feeding America Food Bank network and is the only designated USDA approved provider serving the tri-county region. Their vision is that 100% of the hungry population in the community has access to an adequate supply of nutritious food. Their mission is to lead the fight to end hunger in the community by providing nutritious food and transforming lives through innovative programming, education, and hunger advocacy.