As the mail trucks backed up to the dock Saturday at the River Bend Foodbank in Moline, executive director Tom Laughlin looked around his warehouse.
After the Student Hunger Drive had filled the warehouse to overflowing last fall, the cupboard looked somewhat bare at the beginning of this day in May.
With summer coming, Laughlin said the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive sponsored by United Way of the Quad-Cities Area and the National Association of Letter Carriers comes at the right time.
"We distributed 7.1 million pounds of food last year in our 22-county area around the Quad-Cities,” Laughlin said. "Our first year in business, 32 years ago, we distributed 190,000 pounds. We’re going through 600,000 pounds of food a month.
"This is coming at a time when many families are going to be stressed over the next few months as school is letting out," he said. "We need every can."
Josh Shipp, the AFL-CIO community services liaison, said last year the event gathered about 49,000 pounds of food, but in 2010 it brought in about 77,000 pounds.
With figures in hand later Saturday, Laughlin said this year's drive had brought in 60,124 pounds so far, an increase of almost 20 percent over last year. This year’s lofty goal is 100,000 pounds.
Postal customers in the two-state region left sacks of nonperishable food next to their mailboxes Saturday for carriers to pick up as they made their rounds.
By about 4:30 p.m., as letter carriers made it back to the respective post offices, the job of packing became frantic.
Mary Rourke, a retired letter carrier, packed away cans on the dock of the Davenport Post Office.
Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox
"I never miss this," said Rourke, who was a letter carrier for 30 years and has participated in the Stamp Out Hunger event each year of its existence. "This is the time of year when people need the most help, and the food bank needs donations.
"The holidays are over and the idea of hunger in the Quad-Cities is not uppermost in people’s minds," Rourke said. "This is the perfect time of year for this."
Among those helping to pack boxes at the Davenport Post Office on West 2nd Street was U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who was helped by Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba.
"I’m trying to draw attention to the fact that this sequestration is a really bad idea that is hurting the people who need our help most,” Loebsack said. "Yes, we need to get our financial house in order, but not with across-the-board cuts. We need to be smart about cuts and make sure they don’t hurt the most vulnerable in our society."