JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Letter Carriers across the country collected food as part of the 22nd annual, 'Stamp out Hunger' campaign on Saturday.
One Jacksonville carrier got some help from her neighbors after her battle with cancer. MaShon Cooney has been delivering mail in San Mateo for 18 years. She walks 16 loops, which amounts to about seven hours of walking, each day.
Every second Saturday of the year, Cooney picks up food donations from generous residents on top of her mail delivery. Residents across the country leave food outside of their homes for the millions of people who do not know when they will eat their next meal.
"It means a lot to help out those in need," said Cooney. "You just never know if you will end up in that boat."
Cooney is also recovering from several surgeries and chemotherapy.
"I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2012," said Cooney. "It was stage 3 B."
Cooney said the melanoma was found in her leg -- the part of her body she uses the most for her walk route. She would undergo chemotherapy in the morning and get back to delivering mail later in the afternoon. Now, with the added pressure of collecting heavy cans, San Mateo residents are stepping in. Those residents are Donna Philbrick and Lynn Vandenhoy.
"I said we'll just hook up the trailer to the golf cart and that's what we did," said Philbrick. "Look at all the food we got back there!"
Philbrick said it took her about a week to build the trailer, which is made out of plywood.
"I believe people should give," said Philbrick. "And, this is just another form of giving."
"I love my customers," said Cooney. "I have the best customers in Jacksonville."
Cooney says there is still time to donate. You can leave your donations outside of your door until May 17. You can also drop off donations at your nearest Postal Service.
Hunger in North Florida
More than 348,460 people in the 17-county area served by the Nourishment Network are food insecure - which means they do not know when they will get their next meal. This equates to 17.4 percent of our area's population requiring help with food. In fact, one in six adults and one in four children in North Florida face hunger. Approximately 40 percent of those who receive food from the Nourishment Network are working families who do not earn enough to make ends meet.
In order to help all of those struggling with hunger, the Nourishment Network needs to distribute 40 million pounds annually to adequately meet the community's need. Food is plentiful, yet more than 2 billion pounds of produce in Florida along are unharvested or plowed over every year due to lack of funding or transportation.
The Role of Nourishment Network
The Nourishment Network (formerly Second Harvest) is the food source for more than 450 nonprofit agencies in a 17-county area in North Florida. Through these nonprofit partners and programs delivering food directly to hungry people, the Nourishment Network feeds hundreds of thousands of hungry and food-insecure adults and children each year in an effort to help solve hunger.
In 2013, the Nourishment Network delivered 22,537,151 pounds of food - an increase of 5 percent from last year and an increase of 35 percent from three years ago.
Saturday's Food Drive
The "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive invites community members to help the Nourishment Network solve hunger by placing bags of nonperishable food items by their mailboxes to be picked up by USPS letter carriers. Last year, the "Stamp Out Hunger" drive raised approximately 208,000 pounds of food and they hope to raise even more this year. In fact, if they collect even 5 percent more this year, it will be enough to produce 180,000 meals.