To combat hunger, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 22nd annual food drive on Saturday, May 10. Using the unparalleled postal networks, 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. The city of Abilene will be one of the cities taking part in the program.
Among the many local volunteer groups that will help are the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, National Guard units, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy/Girl Scouts, various student groups, local Rotary Clubs, local and state AARP groups and local United Way volunteers.
The Letter Carriers' Food Drive never has been more important. The extreme winter weather and other natural disasters many regions experienced not only exacerbate problems in many communities but also turn some who typically give food into recipients of help.
"Many people in this country still go hungry every day," NALC President Fredric Rolando said. "We are honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans. 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."
Hunger affects about 49 million people around the country, including millions of children and 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.
Last year, letter carriers collected 74.4 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes, the second-highest amount since the NALC's food drive began in 1992. That brought the total to nearly 1.3 billion pounds for the food drive.
"The Postal Service's universal network, reaching 151 million addresses six days a week, makes it possible for us to provide this critically needed assistance," NALC food drive coordinator Pam Donato said.
On May 10, as they deliver mail, the nation's 175,000 letter carriers will collect the donations that residents leave near their mail boxes. People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, peanut butter, 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, which is a national partner in the drive, as are United Way, AARP Drive to End Hunger, Publix, Campbell Soup Co., the U.S. Postal Service, National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, the AFL CIO, Valpak, Valassis and Uncle Bob's Self Storage.
People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or go to nalc.org/food, facebook.com/StampOutHunger or twitter.com/StampOutHunger.
The 280,000-member NALC represents letter carriers across the country employed by the U.S. Postal Service, along with retired letter carriers. Founded by Civil War veterans in 1889, the NALC is among the country's oldest labor unions.