Food drive helps letter carriers give back to communities
Final preparations are underway for the 25th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive on Saturday, May 13.
And America’s letter carriers will be ready for it, NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Preparation and coordination for Food Drive Day can be challenging,” he said. “Despite the challenges, we look forward to it each year because of the important role we’re playing in the fight against hunger in this country.”
As letter carriers are keenly aware, too many of our customers live in challenging situations, uncertain of where their next meal will come.
“We deliver to every address in America at least six days a week,” Rolando said, “and because we’re such a consistent and familiar presence in neighborhoods, we’re all too familiar with the unfortunate reality of ongoing hunger.”
The NALC National Food Drive is the outgrowth of a tradition of community service exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carriers union over the years. These carriers, who go into neighborhoods in every town six days a week, have always been involved when something needed to be done, whether it be collecting funds for a charity like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, watching over the elderly through the Carrier Alert program, assisting the American Red Cross during time of disaster, or rescuing victims of fires, crime, and other mishaps.
The national, coordinated effort by the NALC to help fight hunger in America grew out of discussions in 1991 by a number of leaders at the time, including NALC President Vincent R. Sombrotto, AFL-CIO Community Services Director Joseph Velasquez and Postmaster General Anthony Frank. A pilot drive was held in 10 cities in October of 1991, and it proved so successful that work began immediately on making it a nationwide effort.
Input from food banks and pantries suggested that late spring would be the best time since by then most food banks in the country start running out of donations received during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods.
A revamped drive was organized for May 15, 1993—the second Saturday in May—with a goal of having at least one NALC branch in each of the 50 states participating. The result was astounding. More than 11 million pounds of food was collected—a one-day record in the United States—involving more than 220 union branches.
From Alaska to Florida and Maine to Hawaii, letter carriers did double duty—delivering mail and picking up donations. It just grew and grew from that point.
In 2010, the food drive surpassed the 1 billion pound park in total food collected over its history.