The annual Stamp Out Hunger! Food Drive gets underway this weekend. The drive helps meet the high demand for food in the summer months when kids are out of school. The National Association of Letter Carriers are holding the drive in tandem with the Utah Food Bank. People are encouraged to leave food by their mailbox on Saturday and their letter carriers will collect the food.
Last year Utahn’s donated a million pounds of food during the one-day drive. According to the Utah Food Bank nearly 138,000 households in the state face food insecurity. Gina Cornia is Executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger. She says More than 37 percent of Utah students receive school lunch for free or reduced price. That’s more than 1 in 3 kids who are getting a chunk of their nutrition through the school lunch program.
“Unless they live in a community that has a summer food program those families don’t have more resources to feed their kids during the summer than they do during the school year," Cornia says. "And so access to emergency food pantries and emergency food pantry usage really goes up in the summer."
Jeanette Bott from the Utah Food bank says the food goes directly to local pantries throughout every county in Utah. She says because the drive really targets kids who would otherwise have access to breakfast and lunch at school, pantries are in need of what she calls kid-friendly foods.
“I guess that means things that my kids or your kids would eat, so mac and cheese, peanut butter, fruit that comes in a pop-top can, things that are easy for kids to prepare themselves if their parents are not at home," Bott says.
Letter carriers this week have been placing plastic bags in mailboxes throughout the state. Those who want to participate should fill them with food, place them by their mailbox early Saturday morning and letter carriers will pick them up. Bott says make sure to keep outgoing mail separate from the food donation.