You can help stamp out hunger this Saturday

“Fill a bag. Help feed families.” That’s what the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has been doing for over a quarter century.

The 27th drive will be held Saturday. Over the past 26 years, letter carriers have collected over 1.5 billion pounds of food. It is always held the second Saturday in May. All collected food donations are delivered to a local food bank or pantry and stay in the donor’s community. It is touted as the biggest one-day food drive in our nation.

A pilot drive was held in October 1991. It proved to be successful and those involved worked to make it a nationwide effort. Food banks and pantries suggested late spring would work best since most of their donations comes over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods — leaving food shelves barren by spring. Also, since summer vacation is near for students, school breakfast and lunch programs are often not available.

So in May 1993 a revamped drive was created. The results were amazing: over 11 million pounds of food collected. In 2018 over 80 million pounds of food were collected pushing the total during the history of the drive to 1.67 billion pounds. That was enough to feed 64 million people. Locally the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 385 collected nearly 250,000 pounds of food. You may have contributed. If so, please keep doing so. If not, how about starting this Saturday?

According to figures provided, 49 million Americans — about one in six — are uncertain where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million children feel the gnawing of hunger on their overall health and ability to perform in the classroom. Nearly 5 million 60-plus seniors are food insecure. Many are on fixed incomes and sometimes even ashamed to ask for assistance.

Those of you out there who have been kind enough to participate in the past know how it works. Just fill a bag with non-perishable food items and leave it by your mailbox on Saturday. It will be picked up by your letter carrier when delivering your mail. You will feel good for helping others and it really doesn’t take much effort to help those in need fill their bellies.

Remember to avoid items packaged in glass, frozen food, homemade or canned food and, especially, items beyond the “past due” date. If you wouldn’t eat it, why would you expect someone else to eat expired food? Food that is opened or damaged is discarded.

Food items accepted would include canned foods such as tuna and fruit. Also beans, oatmeal, whole grains and peanut butter. Just use common sense when filling your bag.

Joining the National Association of Letter Carriers in this commendable endeavor are the U.S. Postal Service, National Rural Letters Carriers’ Association, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, Kellogg’s, Valpak, Valassis and our local pantries. Locally, the national Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive enjoys partnerships with many church and faith groups, Rotary and Lions clubs, grocers and youth groups.

This really is a joint effort to help the less fortunate. We agree with those involved when the say: “Fill a bag with food… Bring hope to someone in need.” We hope you agree too and will help out Saturday.

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