Stamp Out Hunger food drive coming up

Published 10:12 pm Friday, April 20, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

The yearly “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive is swiftly approaching, and the United States Postal Service and community leaders are depending on Selma residents to be aware of what they can do to help contribute on Saturday, May 12.

Each year, the USPS combines their postal efforts with their philanthropic efforts by having employees pick up donations during their usual mail route. For residents, donating is easy, as all they have to do it place a bag of non-perishable food items near or around the mailbox for pick up by their postal worker.

The drive goes on simultaneously in all 50 states, making it the largest single-day food drive in the United States. A nationwide effort, the drive impacts communities at the local level, especially in low-income areas. For Selma and Dallas County, all food collected on this day will go toward the Selma Area Food Bank.

While the name may be misleading, the food bank not only serves the Selma-Dallas County area, but Perry, Marengo and Wilcox counties as well.

To Jeff Harrison, executive director of the Selma Area Food Bank, multiple areas in the Black Belt are considered areas of need.

“They’re all rural counties, and the majority of their residents live in what is classified now as a ‘food desert,’ where you are more than 5 to 10 miles from a grocery store,” Harrison said. “Younger kids and older adults are the ones affected the most. Older adults are not home-bound, but close to it. Some of them can’t drive and some don’t own a vehicle. These are the type of people our agencies try to serve.”

The past two or three months, the Southeast has seen areas affected by grocery stores falling on hard times. Winn-Dixie recently closed multiple locations throughout the Southeast. The Piggly-Wiggly in Uniontown, the town’s last grocery store, just closed its doors permanently.

However, the Selma Area Food Bank does what they can to contribute to the Black Belt, and benefit largely from the proceeds of the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. According to Harrison, they collected 2,976 cans the previous year, which was down from their usual total, but this was the same statewide. He emphasizes that they are thankful to get whatever people are willing to give.

In order to increase participation, Harrison and the food bank wanted to increase their publicity on social media and other platforms for the day.

The date of the food drive is planned specifically for when the food banks begin to start running low on food and supplies donated during the holiday season. Harrison reminds us that while the season of giving may be over, the need is still there.

“Our resources have dwindled down by this time of year, so it comes at a great time for us to restock ourselves,” Harrison said. “The demand is always there. It is just a question of how well you can keep the supply coming.”

With many of the residents they serve not having reliable access to healthy foods, the Selma Area Food Bank tries to provide them with as many fruit and vegetable options as possible. This, along with other food items, provide the residents with healthier choices in their lives.

With the food items being collected by the postal workers, there is no “set” time for when the event starts in a person’s specific area. Rather, the donation starts when the mailman or mailwoman shows up. These times can vary, and Harrison wants Black Belt residents to remember to have your donations prepared beforehand.

The Selma Area Food Bank, located at 497 Oak St., is always appreciative of whatever donations people can spare. For more information about their local efforts or efforts with the United States Postal Service, visit www.selmaareafoodbank.com.