Just Food and Lawrence post office teaming up for another year of the ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ food drive

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The Lawrence post office is partnering with Just Food for another year of Stamp Out Hunger, the largest single-day food drive in the country, being held Saturday, May 11.

Mail carriers will drop off informational postcards and donation bags to mailboxes across Lawrence and rural Douglas County on Wednesday. If you fill up that bag — or whatever container you have at home — with food donations and put it back by your mailbox on May 11, your carrier will collect it for the food bank.

Residents can also place donations in Just Food’s community barrels, which are located at various grocery stores, apartment complexes, and other buildings across town. (Visit this interactive map for a full list of Just Food’s year-round community bins.) Barrels will also be placed at Lawrence’s two post office locations on May 11.

“This is my fourth year organizing Stamp Out Hunger, and I always look forward to it,” says Ron Kopp, events coordinator for the National Association of Letter Carriers — Lawrence branch. “When you talk about the U.S. Postal Service, it truly is a service. We pride ourselves on being part of our community, day in and day out. Working with Just Food is an excellent opportunity for us to go above and beyond for an amazing cause.”

Just Food hopes to meet its goal of 10,000 pounds of donated food. Last year, the organization received 10,656 pounds. But Just Food keeps seeing increased demand, as they welcome 200 to 300 new shoppers every month this year.

“We need everything — milk, eggs, meat, produce, canned goods,” says Paul Peach, director of operations at Just Food. “Just leave any food items by your mailbox on May 11 and it’ll get picked up.”

The success of the drive comes down to community participation. And by combining their unique infrastructures to collect and distribute donated food, the U.S. Postal Service and Just Food are making it easier than ever for residents to help their neighbors in need.

“We’re so grateful for our postal workers. They’re giving us the opportunity to touch every single household in this area, and they’re extending their workdays to do that,” says Aundrea Walker, executive director at Just Food. “And the fact that the donations get used so quickly just goes to show how important they are.”

Just Food provides shoppers with about 2,000 pounds of food every day, according to Walker. If they hit their goal of 10,000 pounds of donated food through Stamp Out Hunger, that will only stock their shelves for about five days. (Pre-pandemic, a haul of that size could last months.) Then, Just Food will tap back into its budget — $40,000 per month — to keep feeding those in need.

Because of this impact, helping Just Food is personal for Kopp.

“I worked in the service industry for nearly a decade and, due to COVID, was laid off like many other restaurant and bar workers,” he says. “In that time between being laid off and starting at the post office, I turned to Just Food to help me get through that tough 2020. That is one of the key reasons I put a significant effort into supporting our food drive so it’s as effective as it can be.”

This passion is contagious, and it’s not only coming from Kopp, but also the entire post office.

“Workers come back from their routes with a smile on their face,” Peach says. “And they care. They want to bring food in because it’s their way of helping. It is extra work and it’s hard to carry those things, some of them break, but the mail carriers do it with pride and that really makes a difference.”

For questions about Stamp Out Hunger donations, contact Paul Peach at operations@justfoodks.org. Stay up-to-date with Just Food on their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Jordan Winter (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a 2019 KU grad with degrees in journalism and political science.

Check out her work at jrdnwntr.com. See more of her work for the Times here.

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