May 11 food drive to support Neighborhood House

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 8, 2019

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The country’s largest single-day food drive, the 27th annual National Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger drive, will come to town May 11.

Locally, the Rochester Area Neighborhood House food pantry will benefit from the donations, which will be collected by the two post offices in the Rochester area — the Rochester Main Post Office, at 511 Olde Towne Road in downtown Rochester, and the Rochester Carrier Annex, at 1936 Rochester Industrial Lane in Rochester Hills.

Debra Cole, the manager of the Neighborhood House food pantry, said Stamp Out Hunger provides food at an important time of year, when the youth in local families will not be receiving free or reduced-price lunches at school. Once school closes for the summer, she said, it’s back up to the parents to pay for three nutritious meals.

“Twenty-six percent of Rochester is the line that’s called ‘working poor,’” said Cole. “In the last eight months, we have probably seen 250-300 families come through needing assistance. So we are very busy.”

Cole said the pantry distributes about 5,000 pounds of food per week to individuals and families in need in Oakland Township, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills and Leonard.

“Last year we got 32,000 pounds of food from the postal drive, and the year before it was 47,000 pounds, so if you take that 40,000 pounds and you divide it by 5,000 pounds, you have eight weeks’ worth of food. It really puts it into perspective,” she said. “That 40,000 pounds generally lasts us a couple of months, which is great, because we don’t have to buy it.”

Cole said there are many ways to support the food drive this year. Volunteers are needed to help pick up food donations in their vehicles along letter carriers’ walking routes, to monitor drop-off locations, to unload trucks and to sort the food that comes in. To sign up, contact the Rochester Area Neighborhood House at volunteer@ranh.org or at (248) 651-5836, ext. 15.

To donate to the food drive, residents are asked to fill a grocery bag with nonperishable food and place it at their mailbox May 11. Most residents in the area should receive a folded grocery bag in the mail prior to the event as a reminder.

“We want to get as many donations as we can this year,” said Carlean Newman, the delivery supervisor at the Rochester Main Post Office.

An updated wish list of the items most needed by the Neighborhood House food pantry can be found at www.RANH.org/wish-list. Some of those items include oatmeal, cereal, canned mixed vegetables, canned fruit, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, canned beans, rice, applesauce, tea bags, and personal health items, including toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner.

“Even if you just put one extra can in your bag, the one extra can in all of the bags that go out would really help us quite a bit,” Cole said.

All food collected stays local, helping feed hungry families in the community during the summer.

For more information, visit www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive.