The annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive brought in more than 100,000 pounds of food.
USPS letter carrier Jonathan Vargas, assistant warehouse manager Maxi Rodriguez and Interfaith volunteer Jim Entinger, left to right, unload donated food from Vargas’ mail truck during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive at the Interfaith Emergency Services Reuben Brawner Food Distribution Center in Ocala, Fla. on Saturday, May 13, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.
On Monday, May 15, Karla Greenway and Laura Klingelsmith were two happy campers.
Greenway, the CEO of Interfaith Emergency Services (IES), and Klingelsmith, an Ocala mail carrier, were ecstatic that the Saturday, May 13, National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive brought in more than 100,000 pounds of food.
“There is still some food trickling in, but we have collected 103,792 pounds so far,” Greenway said on Monday. “The Marion County community truly stepped up. This year’s participation was more than double what it was last year. We are so grateful.”The food drive is a national event, but the food collected locally stays in the immediate community. IES is the lead agency for distribution and works with other partner agencies in Marion County.
“This year was fantastic,” said Klingelsmith, who helped organize the local food drive, along with Tim Legge, a retired mail carrier, and Greenway and her team.
“It was way better than last year. We are very pleased with the results,” Klingelsmith added.
This year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive was the 31st for Ocala/Marion County.“The increased cost of groceries and rent is bringing many new people to our door who have never needed our help before,” Greenway said prior to the event. “The majority of donations will stay in the Interfaith pantry to help us get through the summer months—in summer, we have an increase due to children being home and not having the benefit of school lunches. We will share with our satellite and partner pantries as supply allows.”
“This is so good for the community. The food stays local. It stays here to help our neighbors,” Klingelsmith said. “That’s what I’ve always enjoyed about it, you know where its’ going.”
IES provides services including emergency help, a shelter program and the Food 4 Kids program. Donations of food are needed year-round. To learn more, go to iesmarion.org