Letter carriers drive to stamp out hungerMany children look forward to the end of the school year. Summer means soccer, softball, camping, reading or time to hang out with friends. For some kids, however, no school means long hungry days, since their most reliable source of nutrition is school lunch. The problem is particularly acute in our region. Last year a report by Hunger Free Minnesota found that Lake County has the highest rate of child hunger in the state.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Many children look forward to the end of the school year. Summer means soccer, softball, camping, reading or time to hang out with friends. For some kids, however, no school means long hungry days, since their most reliable source of nutrition is school lunch. The problem is particularly acute in our region. Last year a report by Hunger Free Minnesota found that Lake County has the highest rate of child hunger in the state.
The National Association of Letter Carriers in conjunction with the U.S.Postal Service, is trying to make a difference. On May 11, letter carriers all over the country will be collecting food donations – in addition to picking up and delivering the mail. Mike Harris, a letter carrier in Lake County, and steward of the NALC union, has undertaken this year’s effort, with donations earmarked for the Two Harbors Area Food Shelf.
“This is a very important food drive. This helps offset the need in the summer months,” said Harris,” big donations come in (to food shelves) during March and December, but with summer coming and kids not having access to free lunches, these food donations will help.” Harris has collected donations in the past, but this year he’s at the helm of the event and he said he wants the community aware that its help is needed.
“This is my first year organizing it, so I’m trying to promote it and get the word out,” he said. “Donations have gone down every year since the recession started and this is when people need it the most.”
In fact, the need is growing. Last year’s Hunger Free Minnesota report also found that 85 percent of food shelves noted increases in the number of clients seeking emergency hunger relief over the past five years. Last year 900 local residents visited the food shelf and 111,000 pounds of food were distributed, said Phill Arnold, the food shelf’s director.
In 2012 letter carriers collected and delivered 4,000 pounds of food to the Two Harbors food shelf. Harris would like to see that amount increase, so next week he and other letter carriers will be delivering bags to houses and mailboxes along their routes. They’ll return to pick up donations the day before Mother’s Day.
“It’s very easy to give,” said Harris, “all you have to do is put a couple items in the bag.” The letter carriers do the rest. They’ll even collect items on Monday if residents forget about the food drive or are away from home that day, he said. For those who pick up their mail at post office, donation boxes will be made available.
Donations of canned protein are especially needed –tuna, chicken, lentils and beans. Soups and chili containing meat or poultry are also much appreciated.
Residents who would like to get more involved on May 11, may do so by volunteering to weigh and sort collected items at the food shelf. Lunch and snacks will be served.
Call AEOA in Two Harbors if you’d like to volunteer. The number is 218-834-2280