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Stamp Out Hunger food drive this weekend

D. Webster

Non-perishable food items can be left in or near mailboxes to be collected by letter carriers this Saturday.

This Saturday, May 13 is the largest single-day food drive in the nation.

The National Association of Letter Carriers will be picking up donated food items left by mailboxes across the country and state to be distributed to food pantries that directly serve the communities the food was donated in.

Megan Keszler is a letter carrier. She says the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has been positively impacting communities for more than thirty years.

"The very first national drive was in October of 1991, and it started with just ten cities. Two years later, over 220 branches were participating, and the first year in Fargo was 1994, which was the very next year after that. Since Stamp Out Hunger's inception, we have been able to collect over two billion pounds of food. That helps us restock our local food banks and pantries, helping countless needy families throughout the summer when they don't have school lunches to rely on."

Stacie Loegering is Executive Director at the Emergency Food Pantry. She says as of today, one in six North Dakotans is food insecure – meaning demand has never been higher. Loegering says effects of the pandemic and rising inflation have been felt by everyone, but the stress on low income to even middle class families has been mounting.

"Ten to twenty percent of the people coming into the Emergency Food Pantry each day are new, which means they have not gotten a food basket from us in at least five years - but likely, they never have. And I think one thing about that, is hopefully the stigma to reach out and get help and get food is reduced. For families living paycheck to paycheck, it's literally getting medicine for their kids when they have a cold, or a family who had a car battery that no longer was working, and had to choose a battery versus getting food on the table."

Spokesman for the Great Plains Food Bank Jared Slinde says as demand grows, the Food Bank finds more and more ways to get creative and meet that demand.

To participate in this year’s food drive, simply set out non-perishable food items near your mailbox before mail is collected this Saturday. Donations can also be given online at www.greatplainsfoodbank.org.