Residents in both Lee and Collier counties participated in the 20th annual National Letter Carrier Food Drive on Saturday, May 12. The "Stamp Out Hunger" one-day food collection totals show Lee County as receiving 297,532 pounds of food and Collier County receiving 269,340 pounds. The Harry Chapin Food Bank, along with other agencies, receives the food in Lee County; in Collier County, the food goes to Collier Harvest.
The weight amounts represent a 27 percent decrease in Lee County contributions from last year's 408,300 pounds, but Collier County's total represents 10,000 pounds over last year. Postal officials and Harry Chapin Food Bank representatives attribute the reduction in donations to the declining economic conditions; those who contributed last year are now in need of food assistance themselves.
All food collected in the food drive will be distributed to participating agencies at no cost. In addition, Lee County received $400 in cash contributions. Last year the amount was $2,054. For each dollar contributed, the Harry Chapin Food Bank can purchase $6 worth of food.
Lee County had 372 Harry Chapin Food Bank volunteers who made a preliminary sort of the food at eight collection points. There were 150 postal service volunteers who assisted letter carriers in collecting food from the various routes.
Those who were not able to participate in Saturday's food drive may still do so by taking nonperishable food items to any post office or Uncle Bob's Storage locations. Checks can also be made payable to the Harry Chapin Food Bank and sent to 3760 Fowler Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901.