Letter Carriers Lead The Way In Big Food Drive Saturday You Can Help 2009: Mercury News

Letter carriers lead the way in big food drive Saturday you can help

Mercury News Maria Avalos lost her job as a cook’s helper a year ago and hasn’t been able to find a new one, despite
checking job listings on a charity’s computer twice a day. Ramon Gutierrez is on disability and can’t work but his four children still need to eat every day. So does Tekla Helprin, who’s single but hasn’t been able to find steady work since her husband died four years ago. Without the free groceries they are able to pick up twice a month at Sacred Heart Community Service, the San Jose residents aren’t sure how they would make it through. Neither are the thousands of others who need that little bit of extra help to get by in these hard times. “Everyone can’t help but if people would just put out one or two items, it adds up,” said Theresa Hernandez, a letter carrier for 19 1/2 years and a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers San Jose Branch 193, which started the food drive in San Jose 18 years ago. The event went national the following year. “The timing of the year for the food drive is critical,” said Ken Flagler, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. “The low income kids in feeding programs in school head out for the summer and no longer have that assistance.” Flagler and others hope the food drive can help build summer feeding programs for those children. They are partnering with schools and Boys and Girls clubs to get the meal programs going.
Just since January, calls to the emergency food hotline at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties have gone up 54 percent and food banks in Alameda and Santa Cruz counties have experienced similar jumps.

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