In launching their annual effort to help fight hunger in the San Fernando Valley, the officials at MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) welcomed the support of an old ally and a new friend.
Actors James Edward Olmos and Jeri Ryan appeared at MEND’s headquarters in Pacoima on Wednesday, May 10, along with the US Postal Service (USPS) and National Association of Letter Carriers to urge people to place non-perishable food items by their residential mailboxes for the Stamp Out Hunger campaign, the “largest one-day food drive in the world” according to USPS.
Shopping bags will be placed in residential mailboxes today, May 11. On Saturday, May 13, the goods will be collected by letter carriers here in the Valley and nationwide, and donated to community food banks. MEND will collect goods from four different area post offices to refill its pantry.
Campaign officials pointed out that 49 million people in the US — of which 13 million are children and five million are 60 years or older — “don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
Last year MEND distributed 196,000 pounds of food donated on Stamp Out Hunger day. Letter carriers nationally collected 80.1 million pounds of food. In its 25 years, the campaign has collected and distributed 1.5 billion pounds of goods.
Olmos (“Stand And Deliver,” “2 Guns”) has been a visible MEND supporter since 2013, and has been a national spokesperson for the Stamp Out Hunger campaign the past two years.
“My father was a letter carrier,” Olmos said. “And MEND…is helping thousands and thousands of people throughout the year. And what the postal service does by reaching out across the country for donations to feed the needy is amazing.”
Ryan (“Star Trek: Voyager,” “Major Crimes) was an eager participant.
“I knew about the drive because I’ve donated food before,” she said. “And my mail carrier approached me and asked if I wanted to be part of this. I was thrilled.
“I’m a mom, and kids being hungry is a big issue for me. There are a lot of people who need help, and this is such a simple way that everybody can really make a difference. The food you are giving is helping your neighbors, literally.”