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Donations needed at the food bank 

A week or so ago—May 10, to be exact—you may have noticed grocery bags hanging from mailboxes, and thought, "Huh, that's strange. Why are the neighbors mailing pasta?"

They weren't mailing anything; they were donating food to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina ( during The National Association of Letter Carriers' 16th Annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, the largest in the nation.

Why do I bring this up now, when it's too late to participate? To tell you that even though postal carriers collected more than 240,000 pounds of food, equaling more than 200,000 meals, hunger remains a pernicious, ongoing need in the 34-county area served by the food bank. It sends food to almost 900 partner agencies (soup kitchens, after-school programs, food pantries, rescue missions) in our area.

"We serve a third of the state, so the food, when it comes in, it's not just sitting here," said Christy Simmons, spokeswoman for the food bank. "It's going right back out."

More than half of the food bank's donations come during the holiday season, but supplies tend to drop off after that. That's a national, annual trend that food banks always deal with. The food bank estimates that, in its service area, there are now nearly 450,000 (up from 400,000) individuals who are unable to access adequate food. Of these, more than 149,000 are children (up from 120,000).

So, if, like me, you missed the chance to donate food via the postal carriers, donate now to your local soup kitchen/ food pantry/ shelter. The food bank's site has a cool function where you can enter your ZIP code and a mile radius, and find a list of partner agencies. (From the home page, click on "About" and then "Find an Agency.") I entered mine and was surprised at smaller places I'd never heard of that are collecting food right around my corner. You can also donate money to the food bank via the site.

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend cookouts, Whole Foods Market in Raleigh (3540 Wade Ave., 828-5805, is fired up to show you new grilling techniques. "Cowboy Dave" (one of the butchers) will prepare several steak varieties, including dry aged, prime and local grass-fed, during his "Succulent Steaks on the Grill" class from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 22. Cost is $10, which gets you "generous grilled steak samplings and a wine pairing." Pre-registration is required.

Taste of Durham ( is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at Imperial Center (4309 Emperor Blvd.). Now in its fourth year, and its second in Research Triangle Park, the festival has taken on more of a Carolina-esque flavor, rather than being strictly Durham-ish. You can taste wine from Lexington, beer from Winston-Salem and food from area restaurants, as well as national chains with locations here. There will also be music, dance performances, chef demonstrations and kid-themed entertainment. Advance tickets are $4, available online or at Harris Teeter stores, or $6 the day of the festival. Food and beverage "coins" are available at the festival ($1=1 coin).

Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at


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