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Stamp Out Hunger food drive to run with Saturday's mail

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated May 8, 2017 at 11:16 PM

Local letter carriers will collect donations to help "Stamp Out Hunger" in Northeast Tennessee Saturday at mailboxes across the region.

It’s the largest food drive of the year for the local food bank, and this year comes as the food bank’s shelves are alarmingly bare.

Katie Pendergrast, community relations manager for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, said the food bank is in need of volunteers to help local letter carriers unload food donations from their mail trucks at several Tri-Cities are locations on Saturday.

And everyone at the food bank is hoping to see those trucks come in heavily loaded.

In 2015, the drive brought in close to 150,000 pounds of donated food items for the local food bank and its partner agencies, but the total slipped to 98,000 pounds last year.

Hoping to make up that gap this year, the food bank and the letter carriers are reminding everyone this week the drive will take place on Saturday and how easy it is to participate.

Food donated to the letter carriers’ drive helps replenish the food bank’s supplies just as the Second Harvest and the nearly 200 community-based pantries and feeding agencies in the eight-county region it partners with are gearing up for their summer food for programs for children who are at greater risk of hunger when school is out.

Letter carriers in the greater Johnson City and Kingsport areas began delivering Stamp Out Hunger food drive postcards on Monday to explain the drive and the few simple steps it takes to chip in.

Rhonda Chafin, executive director of the Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee, said it is the simplicity of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive that makes it so successful.

“You just pull a few items out of the pantry, put it in a bag and walk outside and hang it on your mailbox,” Chafin said.

Randy Hite, president of the local chapter of the National Letter Carriers Association, which coordinates the drive nationwide, said the carriers’ only requests are that contributors avoid glass containers that could be broken in transport and that they place their food donations in plain view, near their mailbox before the mail runs on Saturday.

Now in its 25th year, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation and has resulted in the donation of more than 1.5 billion pounds of food for food banks in the communities where the donations are gathered.

Volunteers who would like to help unload the letter carriers’ trucks on Saturday should call the food bank at 423-279-0430 for details.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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