The U.S. Postal Service’s annual food drive is this weekend.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28.1 percent of Richmond County residents were living in poverty in 2010.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, county averages for unemployment hovered around the 14 percent range in February of this year, while national averages were 8.3 percent around that same time. Unemployment is nearly double in the county, as compared with the rest of the nation as a whole.
Food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Unemployment, rather than poverty, is a stronger predictor of food insecurity.
Food banks, like Our Daily Bread in Rockingham, help families that are struggling to put food on the table and dealing with unemployment, or poverty or both.
“This has been a particularly heavy year for us,” said Debbie Rohleder, director at Our Daily Bread. “It’s been hard to get grants and donations to make food purchases.”
The Richmond County letter carriers hope to help ease some of the struggles at the Food Bank with their annual food drive.
The city carriers of Hamlet and Rockingham, along with the rural carriers, will be picking up food donations along their routes on Saturday, May 12.
“We’re just asking that anyone who wants to donate leave out a bag of non-perishable food items by their mailbox,” said Clifton Garrison, of branch 1128, who’s helping to organize the drive.
Garrison said that last year the carriers picked up 8,500 pounds of food for the local food bank.
“We’ve been doing this since about 2007, and every year the food donations go up,” he said. “I hope we’ll collect more than ever again this year.”
Non-perishables include canned foods, like fruits or vegetables, and other foods that have a long shelf life.
“We appreciate the donations that Richmond County residents make,” said Rohleder, “and we’re thankful that the local letter carriers continue to do this food drive every year.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org