The 27th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, takes place May 11. MCR/File Photo
KINGMAN — Local letter carriers are looking for more than just mail in residents’ mailboxes Saturday during a national food drive.
The carriers are part of the 27th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive, which takes place May 11. They are asking customers to place non-perishable food items in or around their mailboxes so it can be collected and distributed to local food banks.
Residents can donate dry milk, canned meats and fish, canned soups, boxed rice and dried beans, canned vegetables, cereals, boxed or canned juices, baby formula, baby food, peanut butter and sealed boxes or bags of pasta. All foods need to be in non-breakable containers.
Christina Vela Davidson, national food drive coordinator for the food drive, said the event is the largest one-day food drive in the country, with letter carriers going house to house for donations. Davidson said letter carriers often see the need for food as they make their rounds.
Nationally, there are about 120 million houses in the U.S. and territories with mailboxes. Davidson said about 71.6 million pounds of food was collected last year. All the food stays directly in the area it was collected, said Davidson. In Kingman, donations will go to the Kingman Food Bank.
“Hunger affects millions of people in America, so we see the struggles,” said Davidson. “In May, the shelves for the community food banks are almost empty. That’s when all the children are going on their break, and a lot of food is needed. We are going to fill the shelves back up.”
Phillip Dufek, branch president of the National Letter Carriers Association, said when the U.S. government shut down for about a month in December 2018, it caused great hardship and drained many food banks of their supplies. He said it left a visible mark, and that’s why the need is greater this year than others.
The event originally began in Phoenix, said Dufek, whose district covers Phoenix, Glendale, Buckeye and Kingman. Letter carriers were concerned about the residents and collected food on their day off and their efforts were noticed by higher-ups in Washington, D.C., who decided to make it a national effort.
“We have a very personal attachment to it because it started in our area,” said Dufek. We do it because schools let out and the food banks are hit hard. There are many single-parent families struggling to make ends meet, and seniors have a hard time deciding whether to spend their money on medication, air conditioning or food.”
Dufek said Kingman has about 56,000 mail deliveries and last year collected about 27,000 pounds of food. He encourages residents to place their donations in boxes on the ground or hang them in bags on the mailboxes. Hopefully, local letter carriers will fill up their trucks, he added.
Postmaster General Megan Brennan fully condones and supports it this event.
“The Postal Service is proud to join in this worthwhile annual effort,” said Brennan. “Thousands of letter carriers will collect food donated by our residential customers and distribute to those in need in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam as we strive to combat hunger in America.
Last year, more than 71.6 million pounds of food was collected and donated. More than 1.6 billion pounds has been donated to local food banks and pantries since the Stamp Out Hunger food drive began 27 years ago.”
For more information on the food drive, visit www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive.