Springfield letter carriers to hold big food drive as hunger rises

Terry Engle, left, and Kris Munnerlyn, right stack boxes of food while Garrett Wallen operates the fork lift in the warehouse at the Second Harvest Food Bank Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Terry Engle, left, and Kris Munnerlyn, right stack boxes of food while Garrett Wallen operates the fork lift in the warehouse at the Second Harvest Food Bank Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Letter carriers will be doing double-duty on Saturday by collecting non-perishable food items for local food banks in addition to picking up and dropping off mail.

The 25th annual Letter Carriers Food Drive, Stamp Out Hunger, will see postal workers nationwide collect donated food, including locally for Springfield’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties.

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“It’s a visceral and personal way for people to help their neighbors and fellow residents,” said Rosemary Bradley, Development Director of Second Harvest. “Letter carriers come into contact with people every day, they see what’s happening in neighborhoods.”

More than 100 area carriers will participate in the local effort.

The goal is to collect at least 10,000 pounds of food, Bradley said. That number is down from the peak set around five years ago, but she’s confident people will step up to aid the effort.

Among the top items the food bank seeks include canned meats such as fish and tuna.

“These meat proteins have a long shelf life,” Bradley said.

Also popular are boxed grains including rice, macaroni and cheese, beans, cereal, juices, toaster pastries, and peanut butter.

RELATED: Hunger greater than ever in Springfield

The carriers cannot accept perishable items such as fresh produce including vegetables or fruits.

Donations should be placed in a plastic or paper bag; Bradley recommends plastic in case of rain. The items can be placed in a mailbox or on the ground next to it, or on a porch if the home has only a mail slot.

Overall, the Springfield food bank distributed more than 5.8 million pounds of food last year. That equals about 4.8 million meals. In 2015, the food bank distributed more than 5.1 million pounds of food — the same year it was named the most food insecure city in Ohio.

The food insecurity rate in Clark County was about 16.3 percent in 2014, according to the Map the Meal Gap project completed annually by Feeding America — meaning more than 22,000 people here didn’t get the food they need.

This is one of two major annual food drives Second Harvest participates in. The other is during the holidays.

“There’s a sense of community, that we’re all in this together to take care of each other,” said Bradley.

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