New study shows families in the suburbs are still feeling the affects of the past recession.

Some of Arizona’s most vulnerable students could go hungry this summer without access to free school-lunch programs. 

Local food banks are offering Arizonans the chance to help this weekend by keeping pantry shelves stocked for the season through a nationwide effort to combat hunger.

The annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food-drive campaign by the National Association of Letter Carriers will enlist more than 5,000 mail carriers to pick up non-perishable food donations throughout the Valley.

The mail carriers will retrieve baggeddonations on their regular mail routes Saturday, May 13, and then deliver them to St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Now in its 25th year, the food drive draws more than 230,000 letter carriers throughout the country to retrieve millions of pounds of food, the association said. 

Local letter carriers dropped off reminder cards and labeled grocery bags to residential mailboxes this week.

Those who are able to help provide food to some of Arizona’s needy families are encouraged to fill the bags with non-perishable food items and set them by their mailboxes by Saturday morning.

With children out of school and donations limited during the hottest months of the year, Arizona food banks often rely on Stamp Out Hunger to provide much-needed supplies, according to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance spokesperson Jerry Brown. 

“This is the hardest time for us,” Brown said. “This is kind of our make-or-break drive for the summer.”

Brown said the drive will assist food banks during June, July and August — what he said are the slowest months for donations. 

Saturday’s effort is the largest single-day food drive in the country. Local collections have been going on for nearly 40 years.

In 1976, Phoenix and Glendale letter carriers began picking up food donations for St. Mary’s Food Bank, according to Brown. 

It soon evolved into a national effort that has collected more than 1.5 billion pounds in donations. A record-breaking 80 million pounds was donated in 2016, the most ever donated in a day. 

St. Mary’s distributes more than 40,000 emergency food boxes a month, enough food each day to equal 250,000 meals, Brown said.

St. Mary’s also stocks 500-plus agency partners they serve, including churches, the Salvation Army and food pantries. 

There are St. Mary’s food donation boxes stationed in every Goodwill year-round. The food bank also accepts cash donations, where $1 equals seven meals, Brown said.

“We really hope this year people will step up and do this drive,” Brown said.

Non-perishables for donation

  • Canned fruits
  • Canned veggies
  • Soups
  • Meals in a can
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Tuna
  • Rice
  • Cereal

Arizona hunger statistics

  • Nearly one in three kids, one in five adults, and one in seven seniors live in poverty.
  • One in four kids (24 percent) are in danger of missing meals and are food insecure.
  • St. Mary’s provides 250,000 meals every day to Arizona’s hungry.
  • Arizona ranks third in the country for high child food insecurity rates, with 456,760 children facing hunger daily, behind only New Mexico and Mississippi. 
  • Two million Arizonans live at or below the poverty line.
  • Arizona hunger rates are higher than national average: 17.8 percent of Arizonans are food insecure, compared with 15.9 percent nationally and 28.2 percent of Arizonan children face hunger, compared with 21.6 percent nationally.

Source: St. Mary’s Food Bank


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