Food Drive Short & Sweet:
The National Association of Letter Carriers' 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 we serve.
“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 us.
Last year, the food drive collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food, 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 our national food drive rolls around each year, the shelves of food pantries and other charitable organizations often are nearly empty, turning our hard work on Food Drive Day into a much-needed replenishment with summer fast approaching.
UPDATED: Frequently Asked Questions about the “Stamp Out Hunger”® Food Drive
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm for the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive! Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs):
When do I put out the food? On the second Saturday of May (05/12/2018), just set out your non-perishable food well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. The earlier the better! Note that he or she will be delivering and collecting mail as usual, on top of collecting food donations, so that pickup time could be slightly later than usual. Your letter carrier might also have helpers. A good rule of thumb is to have the bags by your mailbox by 9 a.m.
What if it’s raining/snowing/random bad weather? You’ve heard of the Postal Service’s unofficial motto: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. So, of course your letter carrier will pick up and deliver your mail as usual on Food Drive Day, no matter what the weather may be. Note that plastic bags tend to hold up better in wet weather. If your jurisdiction has banned plastic bags, then consider using a reusable shopping bag instead. And most plastic bags are recyclable.
I put food out and it wasn’t picked up. Why not? Letter carriers try to touch every single mail box in America during the Food Drive, but the fact is that we do admittedly miss some. The Food Drive takes place in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America. It’s an effort to raise national awareness about the real, ongoing problem of hunger in every community, and it’s a sincere attempt to use our unique delivery network to do something about it. Please note, though, that participation is strictly voluntary, and no system is perfect—oversights will occur. If your donation is not picked up, contact your local post office or simply place your donation by your mailbox on Monday instead. (Letter carriers will be picking up missed donations on Monday, too.) And of course, your local food banks and pantries will gratefully accept your donation in person. In any case, we are deeply thankful for your generosity and are truly sorry for any inconvenience.
Do I need to use a special bag? No! No special bags are needed. Paper is sturdy and tends to hold more food, while plastic holds up better if it gets wet (in the rain, etc.). Cloth bags or boxes are also fine. So it’s your choice. And most bags and boxes can be easily recycled. Your letter carrier will gladly take anything you leave out!
I received a special Food Drive bag in the mail; do I have to use only that bag? You can if you want to, but any old bag is just fine. (See above.)
I hear that some people got special Food Drive bags in the mail but I didn’t get one. What gives? A number of letter carrier locals have entered partnerships with sponsors to provide specially marked “Food Drive” bags that get mailed to customers. These sponsorships help defray the costs associated with making the bags and mailing them. Plus, some sponsors have also backed bag distributions as well in certain regions of the country. So bag distribution isn’t national—at least not yet. And you can always use your own bags or boxes.
Does my food donation stay local? Yes—all food stays in your local community. It’s not shipped off to some regional distribution center hundreds of miles away.
donations from Wenatchee will go to the North Central Washington Food Distribution Center, which serves 11 food banks in Chelan and Douglas Counties. Donations from East Wenatchee will benefit Serve Wenatchee Valley.
What do you mean by “non-perishable food?” The top requested non-perishable food items are: cereal, pasta, pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meals (such as soups, chili and pasta), 100% juice, peanut butter, macaroni & cheese, canned protein (tuna, chicken and turkey), beans (canned or dry). You also can donate healthy, low-sodium, low-sugar items such as beans, oatmeal and other whole grains, and canola or olive oil.
Is there anything I shouldn’t donate? Please do not donate frozen food, homemade food or home-canned items. Please do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers. In keeping with good food-handling and food-safety procedures, food that is opened, damaged, out of code or does not have the official ingredients included will be discarded by the food bank in the sorting process.
Can I donate pet food, too? The Food Drive is primarily a people-food food drive, but if you also want to give pet food in addition to your regular donation, food banks may be able to distribute or direct it to pet shelters and organizations in the area that have a need.
Can I donate baby food, too? Yes, but please do not donate any form of individual baby food products (including formula, jarred vegetables and fruits, meals, snacks, infant cereal). Baby food may be donated by the case or pallet, but single item donations present potential contamination risks and special handling requirements.
Can I donate toiletries or other personal care items, too? The Food Drive is primarily, well, a food drive, but if you also want to give personal care items (such as diapers, laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper and household cleaning items) in addition to your regular donation, food banks may be able to distribute or put them to good use with organizations that also provide help to those in need.
How can I help out (besides donating food)? If you would like to volunteer with food distribution and sorting, or in any other capacity, feel free to reach out to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 506-662-6156 ext. 254.
Are my donations tax-deductible? All donations to the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive are tax-deductible because all of the food collected on Food Drive Day is given directly to non-profit charity food agencies in the community the food was collected. Though the National Association of Letter Carriers plans the Food Drive’s logistics and letter carriers provide the transportation for each donor’s generous donation, the National Association of Letter carriers is not the agency that gets listed on tax forms for claiming deductions. There are more than 10,000 food agencies throughout the country that receive these donations, so if you itemize your taxes and want to provide proper credit for your Food Drive donations, you will need to determine the name of the agency (food pantry or other charity) that received your food, as well as the agency’s address and tax identification number for proper reporting on your tax-filing forms. The Food Drive Coordinator at your local post office (click here for a post office locator) should be able to give you the name of the receiving agency, and that agency will likely have tax information handy.
When will we know the results of this year’s drive? National result will understandably take some time to tally. However, results for Wenatchee donations will be updated throughout the day on our Facebook page (Follow Us on Facebook) as they are weighed and a final number will be shared the following Monday.