Stamp out Hunger May 11

By Sherrie Norris (sherrie.norris@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: May. 9, 2013 | Modified: May. 12, 2013
Stamp out Hunger May 11


For more than two decades, the High Country has helped take a bite out of hunger by participating in the annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, sponsored by the National Letter Carriers Association and Campbell Soup Company.

Now in its 21st year, the annual food drive, labeled as the largest one-day event of its kind in the nation, will take place again on Saturday, May 11, in more than 10,000 communities and cities across the country. It is held on the second Saturday of May each year, in conjunction with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

The 2012 drive marked the ninth consecutive year that more than 70 million pounds of food were collected through the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, but with more than 50 million people, including nearly 17 million children, facing hunger in America, it’s never enough.

The timing couldn’t be better locally, said Compton Fortuna, executive director of the Hunger and Health Coalition in Boone, where food donations from the collection are delivered through the local postal service.

“We hope to see this upcoming food drive break earlier records,” Fortuna said. “The cost of food and gas are forcing hundreds of local families to visit our agency just so they can keep food on their tables.”

Fortuna said that with the cost of essentials continuing to rise, families who have never before requested assistance are now coming to her agency. “I’m glad we’re here to help,” she said. “But, at the same time, the rising cost of food impacts our bottom line, as well.”

Fortuna said when the cost of food goes up, the amount of donated food goes down.

“We have been receiving fewer contributions from other food drives, making it necessary to increase the amount of food purchased from resources like the Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem,” she said. “Right now, we are buying more food and paying more for it. A huge collection from this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive would make a tremendous difference — reducing the amount of food that must be purchased, as well as making each box of food distributed more healthy and nutritious.”

This is a critical time for the HHC’s food pantry, Fortuna said, adding, “We are already busy, preparing for the increased need that typically arrives with summer vacation.”

While many families diligently plan a trip to the beach, or for other activities, she said, hundreds of local families are worrying about how they will feed their children throughout the summer.

“Each school-age child at home over the summer requires enough food for an additional 10 meals per week,” Fortuna said. “There are many local children who depend on the breakfast and lunch provided at school every day. Too many children go home to empty cabinets and refrigerators, and the situation worsens during the summer. The foods collected during the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive help to stock the Food Pantry over the summer months so that the children and families who need food can get help.”

The HHC operates six food assistance programs for low-income residents in Watauga County. Donations from Saturday’s food drive will support the food pantry program. “Families are able to come in, up to two times per month,” Fortuna said.

In addition to the Food Pantry Program, the HHC operates programs which provide prepared meals, fresh produce and bread and healthy snacks for children.

In 2012, Watauga County collected more than 5,000 pounds of nonperishable foods from the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Fortuna and her staff are hoping for even more success this year.

“We are hoping the community will help fill the food pantry, so that we can continue to feed local families,” said Crystal Winebarger, HHC’s director of operations.



How You Can Help

Participating in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. On Saturday, May 11, simply hang a bag of nonperishable food on your mailbox or bring your donation to your local post office.
Letter carriers and postal employees will work with volunteers to collect the food and deliver it to the food pantry at the HHC.



Hunger and Health Coalition

The Hunger and Health Coalition is a private, nonprofit organization which has been serving the community for 29 years. Each month, the organization provides an average of 1,000 boxes of food, which feeds an average of 2,500 people.

One in every three fed is a child younger than 18 years of age. More than 3,500 meals are repackaged and distributed, and an average of 1,000 prescriptions are dispensed. The Hunger and Health Coalition is a member of the High Country United Way.

For more information, call (828) 262-1628.




About Feeding America

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive.

As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, its network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors.

Serving the United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.

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