This year marks 30 years of the National Letter Association Carriers’ (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive, which was held recently. The event is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, providing residents with an easy way to donate food to those in need in the community.
Seven area post offices in Valrico, Seffner, Brandon, Riverview, Gibsonton, Sun City Center and Apollo Beach collected more than 22,000 pounds of food to help stock the empty shelves at its partner nonprofit, the Emergency Care Health Organization (ECHO) in Brandon.
“Neighbors helping neighbors, coming together with the community,” said ECHO director Savanna Thompson. “We cannot thank you enough.” She added that along with the participation of the seven post offices, community members and volunteers contributed to the successful day.
The food donated will go to provide more than 18,000 meals to our community, reported Thompson. “It was beautiful to see volunteers of all ages, race and religions come together for their community,” she commented, “This is what makes our community strong.”
Inflation has greatly impacted ECHO, as the rising cost of everything causes an increase in the number of people needing food assistance. Thompson declared, “But the biggest problem facing our community right now is the rising cost of rent.”
She explained that each week, more people who are on the verge of losing their homes or have recently become homeless for the first time in their lives because of rising monthly rent are turning to ECHO for assistance. “ECHO has at least 10 families each week who are coming to us as a last resort,” she said.
In 2019, ECHO also partnered with post offices for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, bringing in close to 80,000 pounds of food for ECHO. Thompson said that ECHO has seen a slight decline in donations due to rising food costs and attributes that to the much lower collections in this year’s food drive.
Residents wishing to donate to ECHO in this critical time of need can do so by dropping food, clothing and money at ECHO Thrift, located at 424 W. Brandon Blvd., from Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ECHO of Brandon at 507 N. Parsons Ave. and ECHO of Riverview at 7809 Capitano St. accept food donations from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Visit echofl.org to find out more information about donating food or to contribute financially.