Niagara Gazette — Every year, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive fills the shelves of food pantries across the United States as organizations strive to feed those facing desperation or hard times.
Volunteers in Niagara Falls spent much of Saturday morning making sure the distributing pantries got as much as they could from the generous people who left canned goods and non-perishable food items on their porches and stoops for collection.
In all six pantries from Niagara Falls met together behind the Rapids Theatre on Main Street to divvy up the donations and ensure the kindness of strangers meant meals for the ones who really need it in the community.
"Last year, our pantry gave out in excess of 47,000 meals to people," Al Picogna, a volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul Divine Mercy Food Pantry, said. "That's just one pantry. Multiply that throughout the entire city and you can see the need is great."
Niagara Falls' pantries, many of which are members of the Food Bank of Western New York, were allowed to distribute the local collected goods locally, according to Carol Houwaart-Dietz, president of United Way of Greater Niagara. Collectively, they've gathered together for this food drive for at least two decades to receive the food and ensure it all makes it safely to the respective pantries.
Getting the food to them is a little trickier, though. Mail deliverers are closely timed on their routes and aren't given any time exemptions to pick up food left outside doors. Instead, they often make two trips through their routes, according to Will Swearengen, a letter carrier at Niagara Falls' Main Street post office.
He said he delivers the mail and moves the food close to the curb for pickup either by himself at a later time or by volunteers who follow behind him.