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Southeast Portlanders help postal carriers "Stamp out Hunger"

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Oregon Food Bank volunteers Christopher Luchini, Bill Brandt-Gasuen, and Shelley Bedell fill another tote to the brim with food collected during the postal Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. When United States Post Office letter carriers distributed yellow plastic bags asking for a food donation during the preceding week, many neighbors responded by stuffing them full of non-perishable groceries left out for pickup on Saturday, May 10.

“We’re glad to be supporting the Oregon Food Bank again this year,” said Kevin Card of the National Association of Letter Carriers, while standing in the parking lot of the USPS Creston Station on S.E. Foster Road.

“Letter carriers have been part of every community in America for a couple hundred years,” Card said. “It’s important for us to give back. On our routes, we see many hard-working people who visit a food bank to make ends meet; this food directly benefits our communities.

“So, we do our part, one day every year, here in Portland – helping the Oregon Food Bank,” Card told THE BEE. “Our customers are awesome, and they appreciate the one day when we go beyond delivering mail, and help our neighbors directly.”

At post offices in the Inner Southeast Portland area, volunteers offloaded the bags of foodstuffs from other volunteers who shuttled loads from the letter carriers, gathered mid-route – and from the carrier vehicles when they came in from the day’s deliveries.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Oregon Food Bank Marketing and Communications Associate Myrna Jensen. “We estimate that we will collect about 500,000 pounds of food here in the Portland metro area.

While the food bank relies on large donations from the food industry, Jensen explained, it’s usually a truckload of one or two products. “This food drive provides a wide variety of food that the people whom we help might normally not receive. This really helps fill out the pantries with food items families might like, or need.”

This came at a critical time, too, Jensen added: “With kids at home, and therefore not getting meals at school, many families are looking to food banks and food pantries for more assistance during the summer months.”

Neighbors here in the area donated generously, Jensen later reported. “19,666 pounds of food came in at the Creston Station, and 18,176 pounds of groceries were received at the Sellwood Station.”

As volunteers wheeled another tote into the United Parcel Service delivery truck, Jensen said, “The generosity of neighbors here, the caring effort of the letter carriers, and the help of many volunteers, will help keep many families from going hungry this summer.”