By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service

SEATTLE – The largest single-day charitable food drive of the year makes it as easy to donate as putting out the mail.

On Saturday, mail carriers will pick up nonperishable food donations for the 24th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

Julie Humphreys, community relations manager for the Second Harvest Food Bank, says her organization in Spokane has received nearly 100,000 pounds of food in each of the last few years from the drive.

Donations come just in time to provide children with meals when they need it most.

“The timing of this food drive is critical, because we’re going into June and the summer months when school’s out,” says Humphreys. “And we always see an increased need for hunger relief and for food for school-age children.”

Humphreys says many children in the Spokane area qualify for free and reduced-price meal programs during the school year. However, their families often face food insecurity when school is out.

Jo Ann Pyle, president of Branch 79 of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Seattle, says carriers are an important part of the communities they serve, and everyone in the community seems to become more charitable when it’s time for the food drive.

“Even some of the customers that maybe don’t have a lot,” says Pyle. “They still contribute.”

Since the drive began, letter carriers have collected 1.3 billion pounds of food nationally.

Humphreys says Second Harvest counts on events like this to find shelf-stable products for year-round distribution, and suggests people donate healthy food items to give to families in need.

“We’re looking for things like high-protein items,” says Humphreys. “So, canned tuna, canned chicken, beans, whole grains, pastas. We really want to emphasize and remind people that we’re trying to make a difference in the health of our community – not just feed people, but feed them really well.”

Bags for nonperishable food items will be distributed this week and collected on Saturday, although donations will be accepted in any type of bag or box.

Featured photo: Mail carriers are collecting food for the 24th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive on Saturday. (Second Harvest)