Letter carriers across the United States come face-to-face daily with the reality that too many Americans are struggling with hunger.
Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, to combat that epidemic, are adding “food collection” to their job description. Letter carriers will collect donated food May 13 as they deliver the mail.
Local mailman T-Jay Short is encouraging residents to leave bags of non-perishable food at their mailbox to benefit the 31st annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The timing is crucial, he said, because food pantries often receive most of their donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. When the spring arrives, however, these shelves often have been depleted with meal programs at schools soon to be suspended for the summer.
The postal union has collected about 1.82 billion pounds of food in the drive’s 30-year history. According to Brian Renfroe, NALC president, there are 34 million Americans, including 9 million children, who are struggling with food insecurity. There also are nearly 5.2 million senior citizens on fixed incomes who suffer from hunger. This demographic is often too embarrassed to ask for help, according to the union.
“Every year the food drive provides us with a unique opportunity to give back to those who are struggling to feed their families,” Renfroe said.
Short said the post office’s goal is 3,000 pounds in 2023; the average local haul is about 2,700 annually. This food remains in the community and is delivered to the food pantries at Central Baptist and St. Mark churches. The Catholic site, for example, received 47 boxes from the letter carriers in 2022.
“This will certainly restock our shelves and help us through the summer months,” volunteer Lisa Vieira said after she received the donations. “We so appreciate our Jamestown neighbors for their generosity.”
Among the most needed items are fruit juice, rice, pancake mix, peanut butter, chili, macaroni and cheese, cooking oil, cereal and canned soups, beans, vegetables, meats and fish.
“Participating is easy,” Renfroe said. “Simply leave a bag of non-perishable food next to your mailbox on Saturday, May 13, and your letter carrier will handle the rest. Together, we can stamp out hunger in America.”