Mail carrier food drive helps FISH and Advocates to End Domestic Violence

Friends in Service Helping and the Advocates to End Domestic Violence will have enough food for the needy until early fall thanks to the letter carriers' annual food drive.

Carson City's 77 letter carriers picked up 27,538 pounds of non-perishable food while delivering mail on Saturday. They topped their 1998 effort by 4,000 pounds.

"This is the most we've ever collected," said Mike McLeod, food drive coordinator for the Carson City unit of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Letter carriers earlier had left notes at all their deliveries asking people to leave canned or packaged food on their doorsteps Saturday. McLeod said some people left five or six bags of food.

Letter carrier Dale Riekenberg collected the most food on his Jacks Valley route. Jacks Valley may be in Douglas County, but the community is served by the Carson City Post Office.

"He had to have somebody come with a second truck," McLeod said.

Most of the food went to FISH because the Advocates have limited storage. Even so, the three truckloads will see the Advocates into October, executive director Lisa Lee said.

"The food drive was so huge," Lee said. "This is way more than we anticipated, way more than we ever received. We could have done much more. but we didn't have the capacity to do more."

Lee said the Advocates plan to build another pantry to serve the 51-bed shelter at a secret location in Carson City.

The Advocates provided shelter for 225 women and children who spent a total of 7,500 nights at the shelter in 1999.

FISH had 20 volunteers, mostly senior citizens, moving food brought by the letter carriers into the storage rooms. Two high school students on Monday started the sorting process, executive director Monte Fish said.

"Just the sorting will last us a month or six weeks," Fish said. "We need seven or eight high school kids to sort the food."

Fast said the letter carrier food drive is one of three primary sources of food for FISH. Supermarkets supply perishables on a daily basis valued at $250,000 during a year and the school district's Trick or Treat for FISH provides upward of 70,000 cans each October.

The food brought by the letter carriers will supply FISH until about early September, Fast said.

Donated food is used by FISH in a number of ways. The food kitchen at FISH gets first crack at the perishables and the pantry.

FISH each day gives out about 45 to 50 food baskets with food valued at about $35. About 20 to 25 percent of the food - 50 baskets each Thursday - goes to the Carson City Senior Center, where it is distributed to senior citizens for home use.

FISH's food pantry in Douglas County hands out about 25 to 30 baskets a month and most Thursdays a pickup truck full of food goes to the Community Chest.

"We were probably a month or two away from having to buy food," Fast said.


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