On Saturday, the annual Stamp Out Hunger Postal Service Food Drive will take place. Campbell Soup Co. will once again be partnering with the National Association of Letter Carriers to sponsor the "nation's largest single-day food drive." We ask that people place bags filled with nonperishable food items next to your mailbox where the bags will be picked up and delivered to the Havre Food Bank. The food bank workers are looking forward to this food drive as the shelves are starting to look depleted.
We have seen a steady increase (nearly double) in the need for our services this past year. Without the support of the community during the letter carriers drive, we would be hard-pressed to meet the needs of those less fortunate in the upcoming months.
Children will soon be out of school and families will have an increased need for food. Those children who do not have access to the Boys & Girls Club or a summer school lunch program are dependent on us for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the summer. We do our best to meet the needs of these families. We will be partnering with the newly established Belly Deli located at the Havre Middle School. Items that fit the needs of the Belly Deli will be sorted out and delivered to them. Our goal is to eliminate childhood hunger in our community.
As Juana "Janie" Mendez, 17, said, "When you are hungry, you can't think about anything else."
With the uncertainty of funding at the state level, access to food for the food bank has been at the very least tenuous.
The past two years, Montana Food Bank Network had funding to purchase much needed food for food banks, soup kitchens and pantries across the state. This funding was part of the governor's budget during the last legislative session. This session, the funding has not been added. This is going to shift demand to the local communities which are already being stretched. It is the combined efforts of local organizations and local donations that ensure there is food on our shelves.
The letter carriers drive is our largest food source for the summer months. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for being such a huge support to us each year. Last year, nearly 4,000 pounds of nonperishable food was collected. Family members of the letter carriers generously volunteer to follow the mail trucks collecting food, helping sort and making sure that the food makes it to the food bank. However, many more volunteers are needed to make the food drive successful.
The Havre Food Bank and the letter carriers of Havre would like to encourage those interested in volunteering meet at the post office on Saturday at 11 a.m. We need volunteers for all aspects of the drive. All ages are welcomed to participate. As in years past, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. will provide refreshments and lunch will be provided. Come and help make a difference in your community.
"America is the richest country in the world. and yet tonight, thousands of your neighbors will go to bed hungry. It may be your child's schoolmate who is undernourished and has difficulty learning on an empty stomach. Or it could be a co-worker, a working mother whose low-wage job doesn't make ends meet. Perhaps it's an elderly neighbor who has to make a decision whether to delay filling a prescription or buying groceries. The faces of hunger are as broad as the faces of America" — David Nasby, General Mills.
(Penny Velk is manager of the Havre Food Bank.)