JONESBORO — For years, nonprofit groups throughout the Southern Crescent have provided food services to the needy thanks in part to the efforts of Clayton County residents and their mail carriers.
Those efforts continue Saturday as members of the National Association of Letter Carriers take to the streets for the 22nd annual Stamp Out Hunger! Food Drive.
Stamp Out Hunger! is deemed the nation’s largest single-day food drive.
Organizers report that thousands of volunteers and letter carriers nationwide collected more than 74.4 million pounds of non-perishable food last year — the second-highest amount since the drive began in 1992. It raised the 21-year total to nearly 1.3 billion pounds, with more than 350,000 pounds collected in metro Atlanta.
Making a donation is easy.
Residents who use the U. S. Postal Service are asked to leave their non-perishable food donations in a bag near their mailbox Saturday, before their letter carrier arrives.
In the days leading up to the food drive, letter carriers delivered special bags along with the mail to be filled with donations.
Officials said food collected during Saturday’s drive will be delivered to local community food banks and food pantries for distribution. Food collected in Clayton County will be donated to Clayton County Community Authority Services Center, which serves Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties.
Spokesman Michael Miles said that, while all non-perishable donations are welcome, foods that are high in protein such as canned tuna, salmon, beans and peanut butter are most needed. Canned fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low sugar cereals, macaroni and cheese dinners and 100-percent fruit juice also top the list of most needed items.
About 49 million, or 1-in-6, Americans are food insecure, according to Feeding America, the national network of more than 200 food banks. The network reported nearly 16 million, or 1-in-5, children are living in a food insecure household, and 4.8 million seniors over 60 face choices between paying rent, utilities and having enough nutritious food.
Participation in the Stamp Out Hunger! Food Drive is voluntary by local National Association of Letter Carriers branches.