Summer is coming, school will be out, and the need for food assistance will be greater than ever. Letter carriers in Lee and Collier counties are gearing up for the 21st annual national letter carrier food drive.
The nation's largest single-day food drive, "Stamp Out Hunger," will be held May 11. This is the one day when letter carriers collect non-perishable food that has been left by mailboxes.
Food collected in Lee County will be distributed by the Harry Chapin Food Bank and several other agencies; food collected in Collier County will be distributed by Collier Harvest.
All food collected in food drives is distributed to participating agencies at no cost.
Northerners who are returning home prior to May 11 may drop off their contributions at any Post Office for inclusion in the May 11 food drive. Food may also be left at Uncle Bob's storage areas at 3780 Central Ave., 4400 Solomon Blvd. or 6600 Industrial Drive, all in Fort Myers; 1320 River Road, North Fort Myers; or 800 Abrams Blvd., Lehigh Acres.
Businesses can set up collection boxes for employees and customers who may not be able to leave food by their mailboxes on May 11.
Virtually any kind of food may be donated in unopened, nonbreakable containers. Items especially in need are peanut butter, tuna, rice, beans, and canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups.
Volunteers are needed to assist letter carriers with their pickups on May 11. Contact Debi Mitchell in Lee County at (239) 573-9638 or Jesse Costin in Collier County at (239) 643-4716.
Volunteers are also needed to assist with preliminary food sorting on May 11. Contact Bedzaida Bryen at Harry Chapin Food Bank at (239) 334-7007 or Kim Berghs at the United Way, (239) 433-2000, ext. 260.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank solicits, collects and stores quality food for distribution to families in need through a network of 150 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Glades counties that provide food to more than 30,000 people monthly.
Over 1 million pounds of food are distributed by the Harry Chapin Food Bank monthly. For each $100, the food bank can distribute $600 worth of food and supplies.
Last year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed more than 15.1 million pounds of food and other grocery items valued at more than $25 million. This is roughly the equivalent of 12.5 million meals.
Information about or to contribute financially to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, contact (239) 334-7007 or go to: harrychapinfoodbank.org.