A major food drive for area food banks kicks off in June which is dairy month in Washington. Northwest Dairy Farmers and Fred Meyer stores have joined for the Northwest Farmers Fighting Hunger Food Drive to benefit 2nd Harvest and other area food banks.

Jeff Steele, Director of Retail Marketing and Business Development for The Washington Dairy Products Commission says summer is a tough time for those who feed the hungry, “the demand always goes up in the summer months and donations drop off dramatically.”

That is where Yakima residents can help this summer. Collection bins will be placed at every Fred Meyer stores in Washington and Oregon and direct mail postcards will be sent to 136,000 select Fred Meyer customers. The postcard features a discount coupon for a local dairy product and also has a barcode that can be scanned at the checkout stand so shoppers can make a direct cash contribution.

The goal is to raise 1 hundred thousand dollars and 1 hundred thousand pounds of food. Steele says for many, June means the end of the school year but for a seemingly increasing number, summer also means the end of the school breakfast and lunch programs until the fall.

The number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches at Washington’s public schools has shot up from 390,000 in 2008 to 470,000 last year.

June is also a difficult time for food banks. During the holidays people are very generous but six months later donations tail off while the demand actually increases.

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