Stamp Out Hunger food drive returns Saturday in Arizona after pandemic break
PHOENIX – After a two-year break forced by the COVID pandemic, the Stamp out Hunger food drive returns to Arizona and across the country Saturday morning.
The campaign, in which millions of pounds of nonperishable food is collected by mail carriers as they go along their routes, benefits Phoenix-based St. Mary’s Food Bank as well as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, United Food Bank and Desert Mission Food Bank, among others.
“It’s a drive you can do in your bathrobe and slippers. All you need to do is go to your pantry, pull out eight or 10 items, throw it in a bag, leave it at your mailbox and your letter carrier does the rest,” Jerry Brown, St. Mary’s Food Bank spokesman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday.
Traditionally held the second Saturday in May, the Stamp Out Hunger campaign is the largest single-day food drive in America, he said.
Food stays in the communities where the donations are collected. The drive, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, is expected to haul in about 70 million pounds of food around the country.
Nonperishables include peanut butter, canned food, cereal, beans, pasta, coffee and tea bags.
Brown said the nonprofit has seen an uptick in families needing that little extra help.
“We’re about 25% over where we were this time last year,” he said. “At some of our larger locations, the ones in Phoenix and Surprise, we’re seeing numbers that are rivaling the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
“We didn’t think we would ever see those [numbers] again.”
Some of the donations the food bank receives are shared with agencies that help the homeless.
“We’re also trying to keep people from getting to that point,” Brown said. “Giving them food that allows them to stay in their houses, allows them to put gas in their cars so they can continue to go to work.”
He added about half the people who go to the food bank have jobs, but right now what they’re earning can’t stretch far enough to cover everything needed to run a household.
The pandemic cost St. Mary’s about 1 million pounds in donations, Brown said.
Stamp Out Hunger, he said, is “an incredible way for people to make donations to their local food bank without leaving their driveway.”
St. Mary’s is accepting monetary donations at its website, as well.
“For every dollar, 95% of it goes right back into our program,” Brown said. “That doesn’t happen at a lot of places. And for every dollar we receive at the food bank, we can distribute enough food for seven meals.”