The National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) 25th Annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger®Food Drive is just weeks away — on Saturday, May 13 — and with that date drawing ever closer, food drive coordinators in hundreds of NALC branches across America are finalizing their preparations for the nation’s largest one-day food collection event designed to help replenish local food banks in the communities they serve.
In Oak Forest, the goal is to collect enough donations to fully stock the St. Damian Food Pantry. To do that, city residents will have to donate 12,000 pounds of non-perishable goods. All residents have to do to take part in the drive is leave a bag full of food items next to their mailbox on the day of the drive. All donations in Oak Forest will be sent to the St. Damian Food Pantry.
“Too many people in this country are going hungry,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “We know this to be true because we see it as we deliver to every address in America at least six days a week.”
Sadly, statistics back this up. Nearly 49 million Americans — 1 in 6 — are unsure where their next meal is coming from. This includes 13 million children as well as about 5 million seniors over age 60 — many of whom live on fixed incomes and often are too embarrassed to ask for help.
Since 1993, when the national food drive began, letter carriers in every part of the country have worked with family members, friends, other postal co-workers and allies to use the second Saturday in May as a day to give something back to the communities that know and trust them.
Last year, the food drive collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food – 13,250 pounds in Oak Forest – raising the total amount of donations picked up over the quarter-century history of the drive to more than 1.5 billion pounds.
By the time the national food drive rolls around each year, the shelves of food pantries and other charitable organizations often are nearly empty, turning the hard work on Food Drive Day into a much-needed replenishment with summer fast approaching.
“Letter carriers lead this massive collection effort,” President Rolando said, “but we couldn’t make the food drive a reality without the help of our national partners.”
This year’s partners are the U.S. Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA), the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Valpak, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation, and Valassis.
“These partners provide tangible support that helps to encourage the generous participation of our postal customers,” Rolando said.
For example, local United Way agencies often help branches coordinate distribution of food to local food banks, pantries and shelters. Countless NRLCA members volunteer their time to work with their brothers and sisters in the city carrier craft to help collect and distribute non-perishable food donations in the country’s rural and underserved areas. AFL-CIO’s community services liaisons work with field mobilization staff members, state federations and central labor councils to coordinate support and recruit volunteers.
“Our extraordinary history of filling local food pantry shelves in communities across the country is made possible by our partnerships with these national organizations in conjunction with the dedication and hard work of letter carriers,” Rolando said.
“The food drive is just one of the many ways letter carriers give back to our communities,” he said. “It’s almost time for us to shine once again.”