#fillabagfeedafamily: Pine Belt residents reminded to place bag of non-perishable groceries by mailbox

By BETH BUNCH,

Pine Belt residents are reminded that Saturday, May 11, is the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letters Carriers. Residents are asked to help by filling the brown grocery bag delivered to your home this week with non-perishable food items and place it by your mailbox. Your letter carrier will pick up the bag and return it to the post office, where the food will then be distributed to the various feeding agencies. 

Community Bank is once again serving as the bag sponsor and has distributed more than 51,000 bags throughout Hattiesburg, Petal and Columbia.

Food collected in these bags stays local and will be distributed among local feeding agencies Christian Services, Edwards Street Fellowship Center, Petal Children's Task Force, and Salvation Army. All of the food donated stays in the local communities. 

U.S. Postal Service employee Dana Jackson, the local coordinator of this year's Stamp Out Hunger food drive, hopes Pine Belt residents will top 2018’s record-setting amount of food donations. Last year’s event brought in more than 93,000 pounds of nonperishable food for hungry neighbors. 

Jackson hopes the return of the brown grocery bags makes it easier for local residents to donate food items to this event. 

If you do not receive a bag in the mail, you can put the food items in any type of bag and set it out.

Food collection bins will be available in the post office lobbies in downtown Hattiesburg, on 40th Avenue, and in Petal for those who receive their mail in a post office box or drawer.

Demaris Lee, director of The Petal Children’s Task Force, said the organization benefits greatly from the food drive each year.

 “Last year we received more than 17,000 pounds of food, which was great at the beginning of the summer when we provide boxes for the summer when children are out of school,” she said. “We appreciate everyone donating food and ask that on May 11 they donate again.” 

Lee said the task force is in need of peanut butter, jelly, sweet peas, fruit cups, veggies, rice and anything non-perishable.

For the Edwards Street Fellowship Center, Stamp Out Hunger is a huge boost for its food pantry each May. 

“During this time of year, people are understandably focusing on graduations, recitals, weddings, and summer vacation plans,” said Ann McCullen, executive director. “No one intends to forget about hungry neighbors; they just need a little reminder. The brown grocery bags that Community Bank supplies for this food drive make it easy for people to leave food by their mailbox for their letter carrier to pick up.” 

Last year, Edwards Street Fellowship Center's food pantry received more than 24,000 pounds of food through the Stamp Out Hunger day. 

“That’s just incredible and covers about three weeks of food supply for our pantry,” McCullen said. The most needed items are canned veggies, canned fruit, canned soup, pasta, dried beans, peanut butter, cereal and canned meats. McCullen said a special bonus is non-perishable foods that are low in sodium and sugar, but avoid anything in a glass container.

“We are thankful for everyone who donates to Stamp Out Hunger, and to the hard-working letter carriers who handle extra special deliveries on this day each year,” she said. “The slogan for the event really says it all: ‘Fill a Bag. Help Feed Families.’”

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