Food pantries hoping letter carriers' drive Saturday stocks their shelves

Empty pantry shelves at Friends in Service Helping and Advocates to End Domestic Violence are a big concern for each site's director.

"We're pretty empty right now," said Jeff Fast, interim director of FISH.

With the annual National Association of Letter Carriers' Food Drive on Saturday, each group is hoping the generosity of the community will help them provide food for those in need, even in uncertain economic times.

"This (food drive) makes it possible for us to do that," Fast said. "Without these donations, we would be hurting."

Fast said the group served about 21,000 meals in the FISH dining room and gave out more than 82,000 meals through the food bank in 2007.

Local letter carriers collected about 60,000 pounds of food in their 2007 drive; 43,000 pounds was collected in 2006.

Letter carrier Shawn Wells, who is coordinating the food drive in Carson City this year, said carriers covering all 51 routes are participating.

"Most of us really love taking part in the food drive," Wells said. "It's a challenge to see how much food you can put into your truck.

"As bad as things are now, this is a drop in the bucket. But it's something. It does feel good to see how generous people can be. Everybody pitches in. It's great."

Advocates director Lisa Lee said their December food drive gets them into the spring pretty well, but she always is frugal about costs.

"I'll spend more than $32,000 on utilities this year at the shelter," Lee said. "This food drive will get us the next bit of the way into the fall."

Even with signs of an economic slowdown present, those who benefit from the community's generosity are hoping people still have some left to give.

"I'm a little worried with everyone having concerns at home on their own budget, they may not be able to donate as freely as before. It's one of those things; anything we receive we don't have to purchase and it's a huge help to us," Lee said.

"And it's something we've come to rely on " the generosity of the community."

Fast said he will have 40-50 volunteers and three trucks at the post office Saturday, helping carriers unload and load, back and forth from the post office to the food bank on Long Street.

"We'll start distributing the food Monday morning," Fast said.

"There would be no way to purchase this amount of food. This is the only way we can do this and stay in business. I don't think there is anyone else organized enough to do this kind of food drive. These guys are the best.

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

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