Local agencies urge Martin County residents to Stamp Out Hunger
House of Hope and several collaborative partners held a press conference May 9 at 10 a.m. to enlighten the public about the current statistics of Martin County residents experiencing hunger and hardship. The timely information was presented days before the Stamp Out Hunger food drive commences nationwide on Saturday, May 13.
The annual food drive is organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and locally it typically delivers about 60,000 pounds of food for House of Hope’s Client Choice pantries and partner agencies. Each year, on the second Saturday in May, residents are encouraged to leave bags of non-perishable food donations by their mailboxes for their letter carriers to collect. The influx of food donations comes at a critical time as many local residents experience seasonal unemployment, offseason reduced income and school lunch programs closing throughout the summer.
United Way of Martin County’s CEO, Carol Houwaart-Diez, explained that “over 41 percent of Martin County residents fall into the ALICE population. These people are the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.” She stressed the importance of the food drive in supporting pantries such as House of Hope as they provide food to these households, freeing up resources to cover other expenses such as utilities. Carol added, “50 percent of Martin County children are receiving free or reduced-cost meals at school. What’s about to happen? School is about to let out. Where are parents going to go to get nutritious food for their children? They’re going to come to House of Hope and other pantries across our community.”
Patricia Badini, a letter carrier of 25 years and local Stamp Out Hunger organizer remarked that letter carriers “see the faces of hunger seven days a week” and it keeps the annual food drive a hot topic within their organization months before Stamp Out Hunger. She added that for those who’d like to participate May 13 but have central mailboxes or other mailbox situations, NALC has created collection sites in some neighborhood clubhouses as well as area post offices. Donations can also be dropped off at the Martin County Fairgrounds this Saturday or any House of Hope location.
House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri offered a list of non-perishable foods that are in shortest supply at this time including tomato products (sauce, paste, whole, diced, etc.), pasta, canned fruit and boxed cereals. He assured, “the food collected in Martin County, stays in Martin County, helping to empower residents to overcome hunger and hardship.”
Organizations represented at the press conference included the National Association of Letter Carriers, House of Hope, United Way of Martin County, Florida Department of Health, LAHIA, Children Services Council, Hobe Sound Community Chest and the Martin County Community Foundation.