In 10,000 cities and towns across the country this May 14th, the 300,000 members of the National Letter Carriers Association will be collecting tens of millions of pounds food to help the needy as part of its 19th annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive.
To explain the urgency of the need, the union's president, Fredric V. Rolando, pointed to recent Department of Agriculture statistics measuring hunger in the United States.
"Those figures show that the number of Americans living in homes lacking sufficient food topped 50 million in 2009, with one in three of those - 17.2 million - a child," he pointed out.
"Sadly, that represents a 30 percent increase in just one year," he said. "No doubt many of us have seen the evidence of this every day on our routes."
Seattle letter carrier Garrett Scott said, "Many Americans would be surprised about who needs help from a food bank. It's your friends, your family, your co-workers. It's working people."
"And in these harsh economic times, people need this now more than ever," he added.
Last year the letter carriers union collected a record 77.1 million pounds of food, and over the past 16 years, they have collected more than 1 billion pounds of food.
The union donates all collected food items to local food banks. The food drive is the single largest food drive of its kind in the U.S. In fact, many local food banks receive the largest portion of their annual food drive efforts from the letter carriers.
In most places, residents will be able leave their donations near their mailbox on May 14th for the letter carrier to pick up. In some major cities, like New York and Chicago, however, transportation limitations require that people bring donations directly to their local post office. Talk to your letter carrier or contact your local post office for more details about the food drive in your area.
To remind postal customers, the US Postal Service will join with Campbell Soup Company to send some 88 million cards with information about the food drive, including 2 million Spanish-language cards. TV and radio ads will also announce the event.
People are asked to leave nonperishable food items in a bag near their mailbox on May 14th. Unless notified otherwise, your letter carrier will bring the donation to the post office for you. Please give canned meats, canned soups and stews and canned vegetables, fruits and beans. Unopened plastic containers of peanut butter and jelly are acceptable, too.
You can "like" the Stamp Out Hunger Facebook page.