Letter carriers Wilton are delivering grocery bags to postal customers this week in advance of the annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive set for Saturday, May 12. Stamp Out Hunger is the largest food drive that benefits Person-to-Person (P2P) each year.

With 9% percent of Fairfield County households living below the poverty level and another 23% struggling to afford the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, hunger and food insecurity is an issue for people here and in neighboring towns.

The number of people living in poverty, plus those who earn less than the basic cost-of-living, is significant in the communities served by the P2P Food Pantry in Norwalk, according to United Way’s ALICE Project: 11% of Weston households, 12% of Wilton households, 16% of Westport households and 36% of Norwalk households.

During the summer months, food pantry demand increases because many families are providing three meals a day to children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals during the school year.

In preparation for the food drive, volunteer groups have been stapling the suggested shopping list of non-perishable foods to 24,500 grocery bags for Norwalk and 6,000 grocery bags for Wilton. Whether they receive a grocery bag or not, residents are encouraged to leave a bag of shelf-stable items at their mailbox Saturday morning or drop it off at the post office on Hubbard Road.

Person-to-Person, Inc. provides low-income individuals and families living in lower Fairfield County with basic emergency and other services. Its service area includes Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton. More information may be found at p2pHelps.org.

United Way’s ALICE program focuses on those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. According to the website uwwesternct.org/alice, nearly 35,000 households in Western Connecticut fall into this category and struggle to pay for basic necessities, including housing, food, childcare, health care, and transportation.