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’ 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, just set out your non-perishable food well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. 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.
What 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).
Is there anything I shouldn’t donate? Please do not donate frozen food, homemade food or home-canned items, or food in glass jars. 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.
How do I know whether my local letter carrier or post office is taking part in the Food Drive? If you live in the Wenatchee Valley, yes.
I put food out and it wasn’t picked up. Why not? We 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. (We’ll 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. We’ll take anything you leave out!
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? 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. Please note that not all food banks will be able to accept these items.
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. If you want to know where yours is going, call your local post office and ask to speak to your local food drive person. There is also a list of local food drive coordinators posted on the Food Drive tool kit.
Can I give money in addition to (or instead of) food? While we strongly encourage food donations over money donations, we won’t turn away any donations. If you want to give money, please avoid donating cash (for everyone’s protection); just write a check made out to your local food bank, food pantry or shelter, seal it in an envelope (no postage required), write “Letter Carriers’ Food Drive” on the envelope, and leave it by or in your mailbox.
Are my donations tax-deductible? Please contact your local food bank. The food drive person at your local post office should be able to help connect you.
How can I help out (besides donating food)? If you would like to volunteer with food distribution and sorting, or in any other capacity, call your local post office and ask to speak to the local food drive person there. You can also contact your local food bank. Many food banks have a great need for volunteers on Food Drive Day as well as all throughout the year. Click here to find your local food bank.