Postal food drive set for Saturday

The nation’s largest single-day food donation effort is being staged in Charlotte Saturday, during the annual National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Donors are asked to leave bags of donated nonperishable food in plastic bags by their mailbox on Saturday to be picked up by carriers.

The drive collected 139,756 pounds of food last year in Charlotte, which was distributed by Loaves & Fishes and Second Harvest Food Bank.

The annual drive comes at a critical time for the community’s low-income families. In four weeks, thousands of students will be out of school for the summer, and parents will become responsible for providing meals for their children that are currently handled by the free and reduced-price lunch program at schools.

Beverly Howard, head of Loaves & Fishes, noted summer is one of the most demanding times for pantries, yet it’s the hardest time to stage food drives. Its estimated that usage of pantries in the summer goes up nearly 15 percent, she said.

“There’s more publicity for charity aid during the holidays, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and people just don’t think of the summer as a time to give,” said Howard.

“But we live in a time when 50 percent of the students in school are part of the free and reduced lunch program. Those children were getting their lunch, and possibly even breakfast at school. In the summer, it’s up to parents to provide those meals.”

That can mean up to 20 additional meals a week for a family with two children, she added. Low-income families are also forced to deal with the cost of child care and summer camps, she added.

Because much of the need in the summer is for children, Loaves & Fishes is hoping the postal workers food drive will attract a lot of peanut butter, cereal, dried fruit, 100 percent fruit juice and healthy snacks.