WEST MICHIGAN -- May 13 is the 25th Annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. To help feed your neighbors, leave non-perishable healthy foods in a bag by your mailbox for your letter carrier before your mail is delivered next Saturday.
The National Association of Letter Carriers runs the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, which has become the largest single-day food drive nationwide. In greater Grand Rapids, letter carrier Andrea Faulkner has organized this food drive at the local level the last four years.
"The letter carriers are also happy, we’re always proud to contribute to our communities so much in just one day," said Faulkner.
One in eight people in West Michigan struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America West Michigan. Last year Grand Rapids' letter carriers collected 108,000 pounds of food during the Stamp Out Hunger drive. Next Saturday they and FAWM are hoping to collect more than 150,000 pounds.
In the Grand Rapids' area, the food collected is brought to FAWM's food bank in Comstock Park to be sorted. Then it's distributed to the local community including through food pantries and charities.
"If you can think of a charity, it probably gets its food from this organization," said Faulkner.
For the last four years, this food bank has distributed record food amounts, and the need is steady.
"There is such a wealth of food produced in this region that we could feed everybody two times over," said Andrew Steiner, media coordinator with FAWM. "It’s a matter of getting that good food to the people who need it."
"Housing is getting more expensive here in the Grand Rapids area, so that puts a pinch on people when it comes to their budget: they have less to spend on healthy food."
Early next week, West Michigan residents should be receiving a postcard and donation bag as a reminder. Use that bag or any container to fill with healthy non-perishable foods: think protein-dense foods like tuna, peanut butter, and beans. Otherwise, you may make an online donation, which will be included in this year's Stamp Out Hunger drive here on Feeding America West Michigan's website.
"When you donate cash, it goes so much further because of the arrangements Feeding America has with the organizations like Meijer and Spartan, and all kinds of very large food distributors," said Faulkner. "It goes so much further than if you go buy a can or a box yourself."
Steiner says perhaps the most touching part of this drive is everyone gives, including those in need.
"A lot of the communities in Grand Rapids that tend to donate the most food during Stamp Out Hunger are also the communities that have the highest need," said Steiner. "People are really feeding their neighbors."