Letter carriers to collect food donations Saturday

LITTLE ROCK — Letters carriers with the U.S. Postal Service will collect food donations across the country Saturday as part of the annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

Gov. Mike Beebe joined representatives of the National Association of Letter Carriers, AARP and Arkansas Foodbank in a news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol to discuss plans for the drive, which last year collected 133,000 pounds of food in Arkansas and 74 million pounds nationwide.

Little Rock letter carrier Phillip Isgrig said people can place food items at their mailboxes to be collected.

“When we go out and deliver mail on Saturday, we’re going to pick that food up,” he said. “It’s the easiest way for the public to participate in a food drive — you don’t have to leave home to do it.”

Isgrig said the goal for Arkansas collection this year is 200,000 pounds.

“The backs of the letter carriers can support that. If you’ll put it at the mailbox, we’ll pick it up and we’ll make it happen,” he said.

Rhonda Sanders, CEO of Arkansas Foodbank, said summer is a difficult time for food pantries to keep their shelves filled because children are not eating meals at school. She also said many families in Central Arkansas are in need following the April 27 tornado.

“I feel like we’re going to go way over our goal … because I’ve seen the generosity of Arkansans in this last week. It has absolutely overwhelmed me,” she said.

Maria Reynolds-Diaz, state director of AARP, said the organization has donated thousands of bags to be distributed in some areas in advance of Saturday’s collection.

Beebe applauded the effort and said it is important to remember that “there are people less fortunate.”

People who wish to donate to the drive are asked to place nonperishable food items in a sturdy bag next to their mailbox before the regular Saturday mail delivery time. People who have received a bag may use it or one of their own.