WASHINGTON (PAI) - With huge need for food rampant in the U.S., the Letter Carriers (NALC) are revving up for their 21st annual food drive, on Saturday, May 11.
Letter Carriers from coast to coast will collect non-perishable food, such as canned soup, vegetables, meats and fish, and boxed pasta, rice or cereal from their route customers or at big-city post offices. Customers can take foods to post offices.
The food is distributed locally, to "free food" pantries, homeless shelters, and other institutions that feed the poor. It also comes at an opportune time, explains Pam Donato, the union's community services director, who runs the drive.
That's because by spring the shelters, pantries and other servers have often run out of food that generous people donated during the winter holiday season. "That's why we selected the second Saturday in May" for the drive, she added.
Last year, NALC members collected 70.7 million pounds of food, the second largest total ever, bringing the cumulative contributions over the food drive's 20-year existence to more than 1.2 billion pounds.
"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," union President Fredric Rolando said. "NALC is truly grateful for the help we get each year, to reach so many neighborhoods all on one day."
"The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive never has been more important than in these times, with hunger a growing problem - affecting about 50 million people around the country, including 17 million children and nine million senior citizens," NALC adds.
Not only are shelter and pantry shelves bare by spring, but also needy youngsters who depend on in-school nutrition programs face annual summers without them, when school is out, the union notes.
The Letter Carriers and their members at 1,400 local branches are getting help for the drive. Other sponsors include the AFL-CIO, Val-Pak, Campbell Foods - which is donating 1 million pounds of food, a million bags for customers to put their food in and 75 million reminder postcards - Valassis/Red Plum, the United Way, the Postal Service and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
And Jeff Keane, who now draws the "Family Circus" cartoon panel, has contributed a promotional cartoon panel about the drive, just as his father, who drew the cartoons for years, did.