The idea of going postal can have a negative connotation, but for purposes of a drive this week officials of a local food bank are relying on it to help the hungry.
Each year, the Yokefellow Cooperative Ministry food pantry in Mount Airy receives vital supplies as a result of the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive conducted by local mail carriers. This is part of a campaign by the National Association of Letter Carriers which is now in its 26th year and is the country’s largest single-day food drive.
Typically, bags are left at mailboxes along the respective postal routes, which local residents are encouraged to fill with food so it can be picked up during the collection day on Saturday.
Even if bags aren’t distributed to a location or more than one is needed for double-bagging or to donate additional items, people can use their own bags and then place them inside the mailbox or directly beside it on Saturday. That’s when carriers will pick up the food on their normal delivery routes.
Donations in the Mount Airy area will be taken to the Yokefellow food pantry on Jones School Road to help fill its shelves. Volunteers usually are standing by at the site on the Saturday the drive is conducted to receive the food, weigh it and put the items on shelves.
The pantry has been in operation since the 1970s, when the Yokefellow organization was launched through a collaboration of area churches.
Last year, it received 21,007 pounds of food through the postal drive, up from 18,231 pounds in 2016, according to figures compiled by Dixie Ratliff, program coordinator at the pantry.
During 2017, the Yokefellow facility distributed 395,841 pounds of food from all its sources.
“And last year we fed 10,770 people,” said Jill Borders, former longtime coordinator, who is filling in for Ratliff this week.
Borders is urging local residents to participate in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday.
“We prefer non-perishable foods,” she said. Canned goods are nice, especially if rain occurs during the collection which could damage cardboard boxes.
Ratliff has called the annual postal drive “an extremely important event for Yokefellow.”
Borders pointed out this week that the pantry has implemented new steps to better serve those in need, such as embracing a recent emphasis on fresh produce due to its health benefits.
Yokefellow receives some produce from grocery stores and in other cases people grow various foods to contribute to the pantry.
Borders said the facility also has added cold-storage capabilities in order to provide more fresh food to clients.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.