Gateway pantry filled by mail carrier food drive

Here’s how ‘very generous’ outer East Portland folks are helping put food, more directly, on the tables of those who need it, right here

As food comes in, gathered in the Gateway area during this year’s Letter Carrier’s “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, Portland Adventist Community Services volunteers receive and sort the food items.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Every spring, the National Association of Letter Carriers hold their “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive – called “the nation’s largest all-volunteer one-day food collection effort” – and it’s actively supported across Portland.

This year, their 26th annual drive was on May 12, and many people left special yellow plastic bags, filled with nonperishable food, for their postal carrier pick up.

Usually, the food is picked up by volunteers at post offices and brought to the Oregon Food Bank for distribution.

USPS Letter Carrier Megan Wise bring bags of food she picked up from neighbors on her delivery route.

“But, this year, instead of having the food go from each post office to the Oregon Food Bank’s main warehouse, this year, the food that comes to the Midway Post Office is going directly to Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS),” explained the organization’s Development Associate, Katie Linfoot.

So, as postal carriers completed their runs through the streets of Hazelwood neighborhood and other Gateway areas, Linfoot pointed out, it was being loaded directly into a big PACS box truck parked in Midland Post Office lot off SE 102nd Avenue.

PACS Development Associate Katie Linfoot, and Food Pantry Manager Ron Meisner, stack collected food, repackaged in these recycled banana boxes, into the truck.

“PACS one of the high-volume partner agencies of Oregon Food Bank,” Linfoot explained. “This year, as a pilot program, food pantries like ours are working directly with the post offices; it’s our volunteers who are here receiving the food from the postal carriers, and sorting and loading it in our truck,” she said.

“Another benefit is, many times more food comes in on Monday – or even as late as Wednesday. So instead of waiting for the Oregon Food Bank to come and get it, the Post Office calls us, and we come pick it up,” Linfoot told East Portland News.

Here, unloading groceries from his rig, is USPS Letter Carrier Peter Veunnasack,

“People are very generous; they sometimes meet me at my vehicle, instead of having me carry the bags from their house,” USPS Letter Carrier Peter Veunnasack smiled. “This year, I think, was even better than last; even more neighbors were very generous this year.”

“What it means, to me, is how much more efficient this makes it for our clients to have more options on the food they receive,” remarked Food Pantry Manager Ron Meisner. “Currently, the PACS Food Pantry serves about 80 families a day; that’s a lot of families we’re helping, and a lot of food going out.

“And, the wonderful part of it is, the food that’s gathered right here, in our service area, is going out to families who need it, right here in our own neighborhoods,” Meisner said.

Throughout the late afternoon, PACS volunteers receive and package thousands of pounds of food, destined to help nearby families in need.

The day of the event PACS received 4,235 pounds of nonperishable food. “Since then, the total has gone up to a total of 4,390 pounds, with 155 pounds of food brought in after the event,” Linfoot said.

Learn more about the good work that PACS does, including their health clinic and thrift store, by visiting their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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