With their cupboards nearly empty, local food banks say the 22nd annual post office food drive is coming just in time.
On Saturday, carriers will collect non-perishable food donations left at any postal box.
Last year, the Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive brought in 18,000 pounds of food for local food banks, enough food to fill the shelves at St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.
The 14 local carriers and seven out-of-town postal contractors are proud of that total, said Elaine Richardson, a Payson carrier.
In the past few years, Payson has ranked No. 1 in collections, beating out most of the Valley postal districts.
Richardson says it is all thanks to the community.
And this year, they need the community to come through again.
The demand for donations is great with money from the annual Payson Area Food Drive set to run out in October. This year the community food drive met its cash goal, but brought in far fewer food donations. Similarly, St. Vincent once relied on deliveries from Valley food banks, but that supply dried up a year ago.
“By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need,” according to a post office press release.
Currently, one in six Americans are not sure where their next meal will come from. In Rim Country, the needy include families, many with two-income earners who struggle to make ends meet because of low wage jobs and seniors on fixed incomes, said Chuck Proudfoot, who heads up the Community Presbyterian Church food bank and the PAFD.
Participating in this year’s letter carrier food drive is simple. Leave non-perishable food donations in a bag by a mailbox on Saturday and the post office employees will do the rest.
While working their normal routes, carriers will collect donations and when their trucks get too full, call in other carriers and volunteers, many working on their day off.
Volunteers in marked vehicles — magnetic signs provided by Printing By George — will also be picking up food due to the volume of donations.
“It is so overwhelming” collecting all the food, Richardson said, but also invigorating.
“This drive gives us a real sense of pride, helping the community,” she said.
All donations are immediately dropped off at St. Vincent, which has scales, boxes and tables ready to go throughout the day. Donations can be dropped off directly at St. Vincent on South St. Phillips Street if homeowners do not want to leave their bag out at a mailbox, Richardson said.
Homeowners should receive a notice of the drive in their mailbox this week.