Early tallies from the Saturday, May 11th Stamp out Hunger Food Drive show 140,421 pounds of food was collected in the Chippewa Valley for local food pantries. This marks a decrease in total donations for the Chippewa Valley last year.
“We have found weather to be a factor,” Tina Dunn, chair of the food drive for the Eau Claire post office stated, explaining one cause for the decline. “Many smaller postal outlets also were unable to distribute donation bags in the mail this year, which likely contributed to the decrease.”
In the city of Eau Claire, 57,407 pounds of food was collected, down from 63,000 in 2012. Donated food items in Eau Claire were delivered to Feed My People food bank and St. Francis Food Pantry. “Though numbers were down, the post office and our area food banks are still very pleased with and thankful for the generosity of our community, both to all who donated, and those who volunteered to help on the day,” Tina said. “We also want to let residents know that some thank you cards blew away in the wind, but we did receive your donations and we thank you very much.”
One of the cities that did show an increase in collections was the city of Chippewa Falls. The Salvation Army reported 20,646 pounds of food collected and delivered to the Chippewa Falls Salvation Army. This was a slight increase from last year. Karen Fredrick, director of The Salvation Army, was particularly happy with the quality of donations. “This year, 99% of the donations were usable, which is significant. [Stamp Out Hunger] was a huge success. We had a good group of volunteers, and the postal workers were great.”
“Stamp Out Hunger is more important than ever in our area,” said Jan Porath, executive director of United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley. “United Way has always been an avid supporter of the letter carrier’s food drive, but current statistics in our area demonstrate the need more than we could say—over 26,000 children in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties are in poverty. Stamp Out Hunger, and the kindness of our community members, provide these children the best chance of getting a proper meal.”
May is a critical time for food pantries and shelters since inventory from holiday donations are depleted and school lunch programs won’t be available in the summer months.