Annual NALC Food Drive – 5/10/08

Donations to food banks and pantries are way down at a time when demand for services is skyrocketing. On Saturday, May 10th, the National Association of Letter Carriers is conducting their 16th annual food drive. Please mark the date on your calendar – because every can of non-perishable food helps, and you never know when you might need the good karma for yourself…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Have you ever gone to bed hungry at night (other than by choice during your latest bikini / speedo season diet)? Or been in a position where you didn’t know how you were going to put the next meal on the table for your family? It sucks the very life force right out of a person, when every waking hour is reduced to “hunting and gathering”.

I managed the logistics at a large inner city food bank for a couple of years, so I saw the true human impact etched in the faces of the clients every single day. There are many of us who are one missed paycheck or an unexpected illness away from needing assistance.

One thing I can tell you from experience, it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic space you occupy – I can almost assure you that you know someone who is using (or has used) a food bank or food pantry to make ends meet. It’s just one of those things that most people don’t run and tell mom, dad, or the friends about.

2008 has brought a myriad of challenges to charitable organizations that distribute food. At a time when the national economy is tanking, donations are way down and demand for the services of food banks and pantries are way up. A recent article in the Charleston (SC) Courier – Post describes what is by no means a unique situation:

East Cooper Community Outreach, which operates a food pantry, reports dramatic increases in people coming in for help – 73 percent – during the first three months of 2008, compared with the same period last year…

In January, rice cost the Food Bank 23 cents a pound. Three months later, the price was 40 cents a pound, a 74 percent increase. Now the food bank is seeking cheaper alternatives, such as potatoes, she says.

The Food Bank serves 154,000 people in 10 coastal counties in South Carolina. In 2007 it distributed 9.3 million pounds of food. The organization estimates another 100,000 people need but don’t use its services. About 40 percent of Food Bank clients have at least one working adult in their household, Kosar says.

And now middle-class families are part of the mix, she says. Forced to choose between necessities such as medicine, food, gas and childcare, they are increasing the demand for free or subsidized food.

“It’s tragic, it really is,” Kosar says. “That’s not a decision that we should have to make.” …

It is indeed tragic.

On Saturday, May 10th, you can help. You don’t even have to leave your house, sign an online petition, call your Senator, write a check, or any of the other actions that we at ASZ normally ask of our readers.

Just put a few cans of food by your mailbox.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) is sponsoring their 16th annual nationwide food drive. You put the food out, your postal carrier will take it away, and it ends up – most importantly – back in your own community at a local foodbank, pantry, or shelter. Want to save the mailman’s back? Take a sack of food down to your local post office.

You’ll help fill someone’s belly, and maybe even feed your own soul a little bit.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

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