Postal food drive shores up suppliesSaturday offers a chance to make a difference. Whether you donate a bag full of food or volunteer to unload it, you can feed hungry people in the community through the National Letter Carrier Food Drive.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Saturday offers a chance to make a difference. Whether you donate a bag full of food or volunteer to unload it, you can feed hungry people in the community through the National Letter Carrier Food Drive.
“Food literally falls out of some of the cars that pull up,” said Kathi Madsen, executive director of the United Way of Superior-Douglas County. “It just warms your heart to see how generous people are.”
Superior has been part of the national food drive since it began 21 years ago, according to Lynette Erickson, the letter carrier organizing the citywide effort in Superior. Rural letter carriers also collect food starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
“All the food collected stays local,” Erickson said. “That’s what’s so great about this.” The Rural Care & Share Food Shelf in Poplar and Iron River as well as the Gordon Area Food Shelf will benefit from their neighbors’ donations.
Food from Superior will go to the Salvation Army, Solid Rock Mission and Faith United Methodist Church food pantries.
Last year, the effort amassed more than 30,000 pounds of food, Erickson said. It all gets used. Since the recession started in 2008, Madsen said, food pantries have been serving more people every year. The Faith United Methodist food pantry has seen need increase 50 percent this year, according to food pantry coordinator Don Johnson. From January to April of 2012, they served 515 families. During those same months this year, they served 764. The letter carriers food drive serves a vital purpose, shoring up supplies of nonperishable food that the pantry pairs with free produce and baked goods collected from Northern Lakes Second Harvest Food Bank.
“It’ll take us through a big part of the summer,” Johnson said.
And it provides variety. Although the pantry can buy soup for lower prices through the food bank, only a few types are available including tomato soup, cream of mushroom and chicken noodle. Brand-name cereals would also provide food pantry clients with more options, Johnson said.
There are many ways to make Saturday’s food drive a success. Volunteers are needed to help unload food at the Superior Post Office from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Madsen said all ages can lend a hand, and there are no minimum time requirements.
“If someone can come for a half hour, we’ll take them,” she said. To volunteer, call the United Way at 715-394-2733. Erickson is still seeking volunteers to collect food along the postal routes, as well. Anyone interested can contact the Superior Post Office. But the pivotal role, she said, is that of donor.
“We just pick food up,” Erickson said. “What’s more important are the people who give.”
Letter carriers will be dropping paper bags off to postal customers this week. Other bags can be filled, as well. Items in glass containers are discouraged, because they can break. Madsen said the biggest need is for canned tuna, chicken, fruits, vegetables and soup as well as peanut butter, cereal and pasta.
“People need to watch expiration dates,” Madsen said, and have the food ready for pick-up by 9 a.m. Saturday.
Working together, we can make a difference, organizers said.
“We can do so much good in one day,” Erickson said.