Canned and dry foods get stored in cupboards, shelves and drawers. But on Saturday, members of Just Food hope Douglas County residents will put the goods in a less conventional place: the mailbox.
The National Association of Letter Carriers and Just Food have teamed up for the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign.
“A postal service and a food bank are two very unlikely partners coming together to feed the hungry,” Just Food Pantry director Jeremy Farmer said. “It’s the coolest when something like this comes together.”
Both organizations request that residents put nonperishable items in or near their mailboxes on Saturday. Letter carriers will pick up the items and deliver them to Just Food, 1200 E. 11th St., which will then distribute the food to Douglas County residents in need.
“What we are asking folks for the most is cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, dried beans, brown rice and canned meat,” Farmer said.
Last year the event, which is part of a larger national campaign, generated 21,000 pounds of donations. This year the organizations are shooting for 30,000 pounds. If it reaches its goal, the campaign would provide about 25,800 individual meals that Farmer said would go a long way to feeding hungry Douglas County residents. The pantry receives 8,000 to 10,000 individual visits each month.
Andy Tuttle, president of the local NALC branch that helped organize the drive, said that giving whatever you can is especially important because of growing poverty levels.
“There are 50 million Americans at or below the poverty line,” he said. “There are 17 million children in America who are food insecure and there are 3 million seniors who have to make the choice of whether they will eat or buy their medications. Those numbers go a long way to explaining the need.”
All donated food will stay within Douglas County. Checks can also be made out to Just Food and placed in the mail.