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Post offices, food bank aim to ‘Stamp Out Hunger’

By Staff | May 1, 2009

The single largest canned food drive is returning to Lee County, and organizers need help.
The 17th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food drive, a joint project between the United States Postal Service and Harry Chapin Food Bank, will be held May 9.
While delivering mail postal carriers will pick up bags of donated food, which are sorted by volunteers at post office locations throughout the county. The Harry Chapin Food Bank then distributes the food to community organizations like the Cape Caring Center.
Harry Chapin associate director Joyce Jacobs said last year’s effort brought in 265,000 pounds of food, but it barely makes a dent in the needs of the community, especially during the economic downturn.
“We do very well here in Lee County for the size of our community,” she said. “(Last year’s totals) seem like a lot of food, but our distribution has been 5 million pounds this fiscal year.”
With several months left before the fiscal year expires, Jacobs said the agency will post record numbers.
“All agencies across the county are seeing between 30 (percent) and 70 percent increase in clients,” she said. “A lot of these are middle-income families that have never been in need before.”
With roughly 450 letter carriers and volunteers picking up food, the United States Postal Service and Harry Chapin need help sorting the food once it is dropped off.
Though Harry Chapin has 300 volunteers, it could use a few more.
“When the carriers come in with the food the volunteers do a pre-sort. They put the glass with the glass, plastic with plastic, cans with cans, to help protect the product,” Jacobs said. “It’s quite a busy day.”
For those looking to donate, a special bag from Publix should arrive in the mail soon.
Event chair and letter carrier George Sciasia said people simply fill the bag and place it by their mail box, or near the mail station if they live in an apartment.
He also said people can bring the food into the post office if they are uncomfortable with placing it outside.
“Just bring it into the post office, and lets help feed some needy people in Lee County,” Sciasia said.
For more information, or to volunteer, contact the Harry Chapin Food Bank at 334-7007.