Carter County to help ‘Stamp Out Hunger’

Published 9:41 am Friday, May 9, 2014

The National Association of Letter Carriers and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee are teaming up Saturday for the largest one-day food drive of the year.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which takes place the same day across all 50 states. The annual food drive provides assistance to millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table.
In 2013, generous Americans donated 74.4 million pounds of food. “We are anticipating another great year for the food drive. The generosity of Carter County residents has been remarkable in past years. Our local food pantries will benefit from the donations collected by your mail carrier on May 10,” said Kurt Onks, Elizabethton mail carrier, who is heading up the local campaign.
“All the food collected here is redistributed in Carter County through the Second Harvest Bank,” said Onks, who is a member of Chapter 2831 of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
“It’s an awesome program. I know it’s a lot of hard work, but I think it’s really a good thing to do,” Onks said. “Every single household has the opportunity to give food.”
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is very important to local pantries and neighbors in need. In the spring, food supplies are typically lower. As schools let out for the summer, the need for additional food is greater since young students don’t have access to free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs. And locally, 1 in 5 children are at risk of going hungry.
In our region, 14.8 percent of people are considered food insecure and are at risk of hunger. However, the numbers are much higher in Carter County, where it is estimated that 8,920 residents are food insecure – about 15.5 percent of the population.
About one-third of these neighbors are not income-eligible for federal nutrition program. This means they rely more on access to healthy, nutritious food from pantries and kitchens.
In 2013, Northeast Harvest Food Bank distributed 8.8 million pounds of food to partner agencies in the eight counties it serves. This was equivalent to over 7.3 million meals. Food is currently provided for an average of 40,000 people per month.
A spokesman for Second Harvest said since 2007, the local agency has seen a 56 percent increase in the number of households requiring emergency food assistance.
Last year, Carter County and Elizabethton residents donated 18,500 pounds of food during the Stamp Out Hunger drive.
To participate in the 22nd Stamp Out Hunger food drive, residents are encouraged to leave a bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal next to their mailbox prior to the time of regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 10. Carter County’s letter carriers will collect these food donations as they deliver the mail and take them to the Elizabethton Post Office where they will then be taken to Second Harvest Food Bank for distribution to participating local food pantries.

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