United Way/USPS food drive Saturday

May 01, 2018

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

When school lets out at the end of May, many Miami County children stop receiving regular morning and evening meals – and food pantry supplies are historically at their lowest.

In a way to assist the wanting children, United Way of Miami County and the National Association of Letter Carriers are partnering to host a “Stamp out Hunger” Food Drive on Saturday, May 12 to stock the shelves for summer.

“People always give at Christmas time and Thanksgiving,” said United Way Executive Director Debi Wallick. “By spring time, the pantries are depleted. It’s important that we get the food supplies back up to where they need to be.”

According to the Indiana Youth Institute, nearly 25 percent of children live in poverty in Miami County, and children who experience food scarcity could be even higher – as more than 50 percent of the students at Peru Community Schools are eligible to receive free or reduced meals, according to Terry Fuller, Food Service Director at Peru Community Schools.

Food scarcity impacts children’s overall health in particular and their ability to perform in school, according to the nonprofit Feeding America. 

During the school year, many students receive free breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and Peru High School offers free dinner Monday through Thursday to any Miami County child under the age or 18, or anyone over the age of 18 that has a physical or mental disability.

In the summertime, there is only a lunch program Monday through Friday for Miami County children, according to Fuller.

The upcoming food drive is an important step in ensuring that parents can enter the pantries and find enough food for their family’s morning, evening and weekend meals this summer, according to Wallick.

Letter carriers in Miami County collected 14,266 pounds of non-perishable food in 2017, and about 6,000 pounds in 2016.

The goal is to collect 15,000 pounds this year.

“We just need people to put their donated nonperishable items by their mailbox or drop it off to their local post office (on May 12) so we can meet our goal,” Wallick said.

The letter carrier will collect and distribute the donations to Miami County’s local food pantries: Miami County Helping Hands, Salvation Army in Peru, Macy’s Food Pantry, and Miami Nation of Indian’s Food Bank in Peru.

Individuals interested in donating can also bring items directly to the Peru Post Office, behind the dock.

Recommended items for donations include canned meats, soup, juice, vegetables, pasta, cereal, peanut butter and rice – avoid including items that have expired or are in glass containers.

“We’re looking forward to having a really good drive this year,” Wallick said.

According to Feeding America, about 41 million Americans, including 13 million children, are unsure where their next meal is coming from. 

More than 12 percent of households were considered food-insecure – meaning the households were unsure of having enough food to meet the need of all household members – at some point in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service