The 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers, will be held Saturday in 10,000 cities and towns across the country.
Local donations will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, which serves Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.
“I’ve been so excited every year to see it grow,” said Rhonda Chafin, Second Harvest executive director, “because it is the largest food drive that we work with.”
How to participate
Randy Hite, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said residents simply need to leave their donation of nonperishable food items in or near their mailbox before their mail is delivered on Saturday.
Items like canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, rice or cereal will be accepted. Collection bags will be provided, and donations will be collected rain or shine.
“Even if you forget to put it out Saturday or your mailman forgets to get it or misses it, go ahead and put it out, and we will do our best to get every little bit for the next few days after that,” Hite said.
Why the food drive is important
The timing of the food drive is significant, as many food banks across the country are running low on donations from the winter holidays. Food banks like Second Harvest are also stocking up for their summer feeding programs, which provide food to children when school meals aren’t available.
As someone who experienced food insecurity growing up, Hite said food drives such as Stamp Out Hunger make a big difference. Last year, the drive collected 46,000 pounds of food locally, and a goal of 50,000 pounds has been set for this year.
“Personally knowing what it’s like struggling like that, it just makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, like you’ve helped somebody,” Hite said. “Forty-one million Americans total, and one in six children, are food insecure, we call it. That just hits home; that shouldn’t be that way in our country.”