WASHINGTON — The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 21st annual food drive to combat hunger on Saturday, May 11. Letter carriers will collect non-perishable food donations on that day as they deliver mail along their postal routes.
It is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
Last year, letter carriers collected 70.7 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes, bringing the total to 1.2 billion pounds for the NALC’s food drive, which began in 1992.
“We’re honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Six days a week, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities where we work, and we’re committed to helping meet those needs.”
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive never has been more important than in these times, with hunger a growing problem – affecting about 50 million people around the country, including 17 million children and nine million senior citizens. Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs suspended during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
“The timing of the food drive is important, and that’s why we selected the second Saturday in May,” said Pam Donato, who coordinates the NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger effort.
On Saturday, May 11, the nation’s 175,000 letter carriers will collect the donations residents leave near their mailboxes, as they deliver mail. People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.
Carriers will bring the food to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with Feeding America, a national partner in the drive. Assisting 1,400 local NALC branches will be rural letter carriers and other postal employees, plus members of other unions and civic volunteers. Other national partners are Campbell Soup Co., AARP, Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, Valassis/Red Plum, the U.S. Postal Service, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, Uncle Bob's Self Storage. GLS Companies, Source Direct Plastics and the Publix grocery store chain.
AARP is providing 15 million bags, Campbell is donating 75 million postcards to mail to postal customers to remind them of the drive along with one million pounds of food and one million bags, Valassis/Red Plum and Valpak are each devoting tens of millions of their mailings to encouraging food donations, and Publix grocery chain and IP paper are each donating bags in certain parts of the country.
The 280,000-member NALC represents letter carriers across the country employed by the US Postal Service, along with retired letter carriers. Founded by Civil War veterans in 1889, NALC is among the country’s oldest labor unions.
People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or visit www.helpstampouthunger.com.