By Dawn Krebs
TREASURE COAST -- On May 11, your letter carrier is asking all the residents of the Treasure Coast to put a special package in the mail, one that will help feed people living in their own community.
It's all part of the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, organized every year by the National Association of Letter Carriers. This year, the food drive will be conducted on Saturday, May 11.
"Last year, the Treasure Coast collected tens of thousands of pounds of food," said Brian Debee, the vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "We've been doing this for 22 years. Every letter carrier participates."
Stamp Out Hunger is the nation's largest single-day food drive, and Treasure Coast Food Bank is the primary recipient in St. Lucie County.
All area residents can help by bagging nonperishable food items and putting it by their mailbox for the more than 240 letter carriers to pick up on May 11.
Recommended items include canned meats, soup, fruit, vegetables, pasta, peanut butter, beans, tomato-based products, cereal and rice. Do not include items that have expired, require refrigeration or are in glass containers.
Stamp Out Hunger typically brings in tons of food for the Treasure Coast Food Bank food pantries.
"We're very excited," said Krista Garofalo, communications officer for Treasure Coast Food Bank. "It's a largest single-day food drive."
According to Ms. Garofalo, It is especially needed during the summer months, when children are not receiving school lunches and many workers have their hours cut back because of seasonal employment.
"The need tends to go up when the children are no longer in school and they don't have access to the free and reduced lunch program," she said.
The day of the drive, both the post office and the food bank relies on volunteers to help with the food drive.
"Generally, the carriers have to make several trips," said Mr. Debee. "We'll have volunteers ready to help the driver unload the truck and place the food into bins. We have several retired postal carrier in addition to family members that help us out."
After the food goes back to the post office, the volunteers will load it into large trucks to transport it to the food bank, where it is sorted and distributed.
Ms. Garofalo said if residents miss the food drive, they can always drop off food to the warehouse, located at 3051 Industrial 25th St. in Fort Pierce.
For more information about the food banks many programs, or about the food drive, call (772) 489-3034 or go online to www.stophunger.org.