Letter Carriers drive collects 35.66 million lbs. to feed the needy
Letter Carriers collected 35.66 million pounds of food nationwide in their annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, resumed after two years of cash-only donations during the coronavirus pandemic. That included 41,500 pounds of food at Branch 583 in Lorain, Ohio, shown here. | NALC Postal Record photo via PAI Photo Service

WASHINGTON (PAI)—After two years of just collecting cash donations due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting personal contact, the Letter Carriers’ annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive roared back up to and on May 14, with NALC members picking up 35,658,590 pounds of food to distribute to local shelters, pantries and food banks.

That total may be low since only two New York City branches reported their food figures: 273,000 pounds from New York #36 and 20,000 more from Flushing. And Chicago’s branches hadn’t reported as of June 15. That left Oak Brook #825 (266,297) to lead Illinois.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the need for donated food skyrocketed, federal figures show, with the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys showing up to one of every seven adults going without sufficient food at some time during the two-plus years of the plague.

Food banks, pantries, and shelters welcomed the NALC’s food with open arms. Their stocks run low in the spring, and demand always rises in the summer as closed schools aren’t providing free or reduced-price lunches.

“Now the shelves in the warehouse” of the Macomb County, Mich., food program “are stocked with canned beef stew, boxes of cereal, chicken noodle soup, and hundreds of other food items needed for families, frail seniors on fixed incomes, disabled veterans, the unemployed and homeless,” the Macomb Daily noted. That NALC branch collected 143,655 pounds.

“Letter Carriers jumped back into the food drive this year,” union President Fredric Rolando told the Postal Record, which published the figures and comments. “They see firsthand how some in their communities struggle with hunger, and they saw the gratitude on the faces of local food bank volunteers as they gathered bag after bag of food.”

The food collected this year pushed the 30-year total for NALC’s annual drive, the biggest one-day food drive in the nation, to more than 1.9 billion pounds. NALC members were glad to get back to real food collecting and distributing, said NALC’s Community Services Director/food drive maven Christina Vela Davidson.

“This year, they were back in full force, filling truck after truck with food for their communities. Many carriers greeted the return of the in-person food drive as a sign things are finally returning to normal.” She’s already started planning next year’s drive.

Two big branches led the way in collecting food. Carriers for San Juan, P.R., Branch 36, which serves the entire island Commonwealth, lapped the field by collecting 2.964 million pounds of food. That’s more than a pound of food per Puerto Rican. Combined, two of Montana’s four branches, Billings (670,040 pounds) and Helena (560,364), duplicated that feat.

Garden Grove, Calif., Branch 1100 led the mainland branches. Its Letter Carriers loaded 1,000,571 pounds of food into their trucks. That outdid the next two California branches, Los Angeles #24 (668,825 pounds) and Pasadena #2200 (267,160) combined.

Oklahoma City Branch 458  (848,689 pounds) was the mainland’s runner-up to Garden Grove. The North (Puget) Sound Branch 450 in Washington was third. Its carriers collected 748,948 pounds—almost equaling Seattle and Vancouver combined.

Other big figures came out of Florida. Carriers at Northeast Florida Branch 53, which includes Jacksonville, collected 382,000 pounds of food. That was good only for fourth, behind Florida West Coast #1477 (650,377), Tampa #599 (640,000), and Clearwater #2008 (601,968).

In several states, notably New Jersey, people donated so much food to one branch—Merged Branch 38—that its carriers out-collected the rest of the state combined: 811,052 pounds for #38 and just over 560,000 pounds for all the others in the magazine’s chart.

And Pittsburgh Branch 84 carriers collected 552,482 pounds, a larger figure than the next four branches in Pennsylvania combined—New Castle, Reading, Erie, and Harrisburg—though each reported more than 100,000 pounds.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.