Postal carriers gather bushels of groceries for East Portland’s hungry

Of the three main post offices we covered, you might be surprised which area donated – by far – the most food, during this unique one-day food drive to benefit the Oregon Food Bank Network …

Richard Ness, SE Portland USPS letter carrier, unloads at the Creston Substation Post Office from his truck all the food that he collected during the “Stamp Out Hunger” event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most of us know our United States Post Office (USPS) letter carrier as a friendly face who delivers our mail and parcels.

But, not long ago, these men and women in blue joined with other members of the National Association of Letter Carriers in their “Stamp Out Hunger” effort, said to be the nation’s largest single-day food drive.

Late in the afternoon, things were picking up at the Creston Substation Post Office in SE Portland, just off SE Foster Road, as letter carriers were returning from their routes, their delivery trucks laden with bags of shelf-stable foods.

“This is a great event,” said Oregon Food Bank (OFB) volunteer team leader Doug Philips with a smile.

“After letter carriers pick up the food donated by folks on their route, they come back here, to their local post office,” explained Philips.

Working as quickly as possible, volunteers check the donated food items, and pack food boxes to be given to the needy.

Pointing to the volunteers busily sorting and packing food goods in the parking lot, Philips explained that these people were checking for out of date and damaged items, and packing individual food boxes, ready to be given away to people need by affiliates of the Oregon Food Bank. “When we get inundated with donations, we put the packaged foods in these large totes; workers at the warehouse will sort through them and re-box them.”

Eventually, Philips added, the food is trucked out to 20 regional food banks, and from there to 970 individual relief agencies in Oregon and Clark County.

“It’s looking pretty good for this year,” remarked Philips. “Last year, we ended up with 15 or 16 totes; so far we have eight totes filled and three pallets of packed boxes. And, most of the letter carriers haven’t arrived back yet.”

After the event was over, OFB spokesperson, Jean Kempe-Ware, said of the day’s efforts, “Distribution of emergency food remains at record high levels. This drive is especially important during these difficult economic times when so many of our neighbors have lost their jobs, savings and homes.”

Doug Philips, Team Leader for the food-gathering event at the Creston Post Office, gets ready to help wheel another full tote of groceries into a waiting truck.

By the end of the day, the Creston Station took in 21,670 pounds of food; besting the Sellwood office’s 20,147 pounds of contributions.

And, in our area of East Portland, the Lents community opened their hearts – and pantries – like no other Neighborhood, Kempe-Ware reported. “These outer East Portland neighbors donated 28,322 on this one-day drive on May 14.”

One can support the efforts of the Oregon Food Bank Network any day, Kempe-Ware noted. To learn more, call (503) 282-0555, or see their website: CLICK HERE to open it.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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