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Stamp out hunger

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn-area residents can help fight hunger locally and nationwide this weekend by walking out to the mailbox. The 16th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, will take place Saturday. It’s the largest one-day food drive in the United States, with 70 million pounds of food collected in 2007. The drive has generated more than 836 million pounds of food since its inception in 1993. “It’s the world’s largest one-day food drive,” said Mike Covington, letter carrier with the United States Postal Service in Auburn and Stamp Out Hunger food drive coordinator. “But what’s collected here stays here. This is where it gets donated and this is where it goes.” All of this year’s donations will go directly to the Salvation Army, the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet and the Seventh-day Adventist Community Services. “Food donations have been low recently,” said Craig George, spokesman for the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet. “A lot of people are generous during the holidays, but what they may not think about during the summer months is that people are hungry year-round.” More than 120 million postcards are bring mailed to postal customers across the nation this week to let them know about the food drive. Postal carriers are asking for nonperishable items like canned meat, fish and soup, cereal, pasta, rice and vegetables. These items may be placed in a bag and placed on the mailbox before the letter carrier arrives. People in rural areas are asked to check with their letter carriers for pickup. Items can also be brought to local post offices. “Stuff will probably still be trickling in for two weeks,” Covington said. “If you can’t get donations out (Saturday), bring it in or leave it for us and we will make sure it gets to the food closet.” Last year, the Salvation Army served more than 15,000 people and provided roughly 57,693 meals. The Interfaith Food Closet served more than 16,000 people. Both food closets serve about 1,200 to 1,500 people per month. According to the postal service, an estimated 35 million people are at risk of hunger in the United States, and 12 million of those are children. In late spring, many food banks begin running out of the donations received during the holidays. “Every little bit helps,” George said. “One can helps, two cans help. No donation is too small and everything really adds up.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.