Letter carriers around the region are gearing up for double duty this Saturday as they will be collecting food items during the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This is the 24th year letter carriers will be collecting items for area food banks. De De Flounlacker, the Executive Director of Manna Food Pantries says it’s become a big part of their year. "This is actually a major event for many food pantries in the area because this is the single largest food drive that happens in one day."
And that day has been getting bigger every year. Flounlacker says last year the drive netted 186,804 pounds of food. That haul was distributed to all the food banks in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. "And we're really hoping to (exceed) that number this year. We'd like to go to 200 thousand-plus. And we believe we can!"
The letter carriers in the region are ready. Last May Phillip Skipper, the President of the Northwest Florida Letter Carriers said his people look forward to this day. "Every year it's 'our day'. So the guys are excited about helping to give back to the community...and what better way to do that than to pick (the food) up by the mailbox and to take it down and to deliver it to those that need it."
And the need is still there. De De Flounlacker says that in addition to Manna Food Pantries, many other organizations will benefit from the day. "ACTS Ministry of Holly Assembly of God in Gulf Breeze, We Care Ministries of Navarre United Methodist Church in Navarre, Feeding The Gulf Coast which used to be Bay Area Food Bank, Warrington Emergency Aid Center and Manna Food Pantries. And it really just depends on where you live and which post office your food goes to as to which of the pantries get it. All of us, though, are in need of food."
When it comes to picking out food items to contribute, remember to only give non-perishable food items…if it needs to be kept in the fridge, then just leave it in your fridge. Flounlacker says they need the basics, like canned soup, canned fruit, canned vegetables and canned meat. Dry pasta, rice, beans and cereal are always welcome. And you can never go wrong with peanut butter.
One last tip, cookies and cakes may be fun, but that’s not what the food banks need. The letter carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is all day this Saturday. If you have a mailbox, then you can be a part of the day.