Stamp Out Hunger
Postal workers hold food drive
By Angie Landsverk
Last year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive collected more than 10,000 pounds of food for the Waupaca Area Food Pantry.
“About 40,000 pounds was collected over the last four years,” said Howard Pope.
He is a letter carrier for Waupaca’s Post Office and the local food drive coordinator.
This year’s food drive is set for Saturday, May 12.
Area residents may expect to see blue food drive bags distributed to their homes within the week.
On May 12, residents are asked to place their donations of non-perishable food items in the blue bags and place them in or near their mailboxes by 8 a.m..
“Leave the flag up if there’s something in there,” Pope said.
The National Association of Letter Carriers holds the annual food drive.
It is the largest single-day food drive in the country.
Last year, more than 75 million pounds of food were collected nationally.
Since 1992, about 1.6 billion pounds of food have been collected through this food drive.
Letter carriers and volunteers pick up the donations throughout the day.
Area residents are reminded to not donate items in glass containers and to also check for expiration dates before donating food items.
Homemade items should also not be donated.
Kathy Jenner is the volunteer daily operations manager at the Waupaca Area Food Pantry.
She said it may take several days to work through 10,000 pounds of donated food.
“It is an unpleasant surprise to find bad produce or squashed bread in a tub a week later,” Jenner said.
In 2017, the pantry served about 4,600 people, according to Linda Holtebeck, president of the pantry’s board.
For the pantry, the upcoming food drive is its biggest one of the year.
It welcomes all donations and currently has a shortage of canned fruits, meats and pastas, but an abundance of canned green beans and corn.
“There’s such a need out there yet. Four-thousand six-hundred people is a lot of people, and there has to be more people in this area who are in need,” Holtebeck said. “We welcome them here. We are a bridge. They can come once per month and can spend that money they would have spent on groceries on something else.”
Located at 800 Churchill St., the Waupaca Area Food Pantry is open from 9-11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The pantry serves those who live in the Waupaca School District, and they need to meet government financial guidelines.
Holtebeck said people may call the pantry at 715-265-1645 to learn about the qualifications.
She also said those unable to get to the pantry due to age or disability may have a proxy go there for them by filling out a form.
Some Americans will see reduced taxes and better prosperity in 2018, Jenner said.
However, the cost of living has increased, she said.
“While the economy may be improving, the recovery still leaves behind many who were hit the hardest,” Jenner said. “Many still struggle to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and rising costs of living.”
She said for those working at or near minimum wage, the benefits of an improving economy have yet to reach their pocketbooks.
Many senior citizens are living on fixed incomes, she said.
“That means for many of our neighbors, putting food on the table remains a daily struggle,” Jenner said.
She notes hunger is an issue throughout the year, not just around the holidays when people tend to donate more.
In addition, social programs like Project Backpack and free and reduced school meals disappear during the summer.
“The postal drive really helps us out, but it doesn’t last forever,” Holtebeck said.
Pope said one in six Americans is food insecure, and one in six children live in a food insecure household.
Sixty-three percent of elderly citizens choose between paying rent, utilities or having enough nutritious food, he said.
Holtebeck said Waupaca is a generous community.
“So many people are willing to do something,” Pope said. “You just have to ask them.”
For the May 12 food drive, donations of non-perishable food items will also be accepted at the post office, as well as at some local businesses.
“Some churches have even called and said they will have collections for this drive,” Holtebeck said.
All will go toward the amount collected for the local Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
Pope said some want to donate funds for the food drive.
Checks written to the Waupaca Area Food Pantry may be mailed to the pantry at P.O. Box 565, Waupaca, WI 54981.
Those who do so should note in the memo line the donation is for the food drive.
“One pound per dollar is the conversion for the total for those wanting to do something else and help out, if they want to give in another way,” Pope said.
For the fifth year, local businesses are being sponsors of this food drive.
Their sponsorships help pay for the cost of the blue bags distributed to area households.
“Take a peak at the bags to see the local businesses contributing to help it take place,” Pope said. “Kudos to them for their continued support.”