Residents across Oklahoma will be getting a little something besides their mail next week in the form of a plastic bag aimed at helping to feed the hungry.
The bags are part of the Feeding Hope and Letter Carriers Food Drive and are to be used by people who want to donate such food items as canned meats, soups, vegetables, peanut butter, rice and beans.
Residents can place the filled bags near their mailboxes for pickup on May 11. Food items donated in central Oklahoma benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The food drive raised 806,068 pounds of food and $1,069,574 for hungry Oklahomans in 2012.National Association of Letter Carriers state chairman Steve Riggs said postal workers take pride in the food drive.
“It's the hardest one day of the year, even harder than Christmas,” Riggs said. “We often say as carriers we are the eyes and ears of a neighborhood and we see the real face of hunger. We know it's not always a man standing on a corner — it's a working family with two kids. This is how we give back to the community and we love it.”
Nonperishable food donations can also be dropped off at participating post offices and metro-area fire stations.
Across the country, letter carriers collected about 70 million pounds of food last year. In the drive's 20-year history more than 1 billion pounds of food have been collected.
“One thing that makes it really effective is that it makes it easy for people to donate,” Regional Food Bank spokeswoman Angie Gaines said. “It's easy to engage people by giving them a bag and simply asking for them to place it next to their mailbox.”
Gaines said the Regional Food Bank serves about 90,000 people each week.
“One in six people struggle with hunger and there is a huge need for food in central Oklahoma,” she said. “Most people have these items in their cupboard or pantry and just taking a few items out and placing them in the bag can make a big difference.”
Cash donations can be made at www.regionalfoodbank.org. The Regional Food Bank also needs about 20 volunteers with their own vehicles to follow postal workers through neighborhoods and assist them with collections. For more information on volunteering, email email@example.com or call 600-3160.