Mail carriers to collect food for needy

By Tom Joyce -

Mail carriers are known for making their appointed rounds through rain, sleet, snow and hail — and soon they’ll also be helping to feed the hungry in this area.

That will occur next Saturday during the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The campaign involves local mail carriers distributing specially marked plastic bags to local homes, which occurred this past week. Residents are now encouraged to fill those bags with non-perishable food items and place them at their mailboxes in time for the carriers to pick up the bags while running postal routes next Saturday.

All the food collected will be delivered to the Yokefellow Cooperative Ministry food bank on Jones School Road in Mount Airy. A special team of volunteers will be working throughout the day Saturday to sort the items and place food on shelves for distribution to local residents in need.

Last year the postal drive produced 23,646 pounds of food.

“We’d like to increase it this year,” said Dixie Ratliff, program coordinator of the food bank, which has been in operation for decades since the Yokefellow organization was launched in the 1970s through a collaboration of area churches.

During 2015, the food bank gave out 409,825 pounds of food altogether, including some that is purchased as well as donated, with Ratliff saying that what the mail carriers collect is much appreciated.

“That goes a big ways toward that — it’s a real big help,” she said during a break from her work on Friday. “It’s amazing the amount of food that goes out of this place.”

The program coordinator also said the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is a timely effort.

“This time of year, schools are going to be letting out,” Ratliff explained, and the supplies collected this Saturday will help families get through the summer when campus meal programs will not be available.

Overall, Yokefellow Cooperative Ministry supplied groceries to more than 10,000 clients in 2015, with the help of 100-plus volunteers.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

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