The National Association of Letter Carriers will hold its first food drive since 2019 on Saturday.
The NALC's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the largest one-day food drive in the United States. Donators are asked to leave nonperishable food items beside their mailboxes, which letter carriers will collect and distribute to local pantries.
"We are so excited to be able to bring this back to the community ... excited to have the letter carriers back," Sarah Fowler, executive director of United Way of the Ouachitas, said. United Way of the Ouachitas, the Hot Springs affiliate of the international United Way nonprofit fundraising network, is sponsoring the food drive.
"It's been three years, that's been way too long. I'm ready -- all carriers, we're ready to take upon this challenge and bring that joy to the community," Ed Rice, NALC city carrier and branch president, said.
"A lot of our local pantries, they didn't receive the food, but we were able to, by our national headquarters, have a money-matching donation through our donor drive. For instance, if we put up $300 from our local branch, our national headquarters was able to match that. And that money went directly to the local food pantries. It was very crucial," Rice said of the years NALC was unable to hold the food drive.
"Although we weren't able to actually provide tangible food, they still were able to provide that monetary support, which during COVID was huge. As we all know, food was something that a lot of families needed ... even here in our office, (we) still have food boxes that we're still providing for families who've been impacted by COVID," Fowler said.
According to the NALC website, the national, coordinated effort 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.
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The first national NALC food drive was subsequently held in 1993.
"Letter carriers are part of every neighborhood in the nation," Fredric Rolando, NALC President, said in a news release. "We see the growing need for food assistance in our communities. On Saturday, May 14th, NALC invites everyone to participate in the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Together, we can help stamp out hunger in America."
Donators are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag, or bags, containing nonperishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, rice or cereal before the regular mail delivery on Saturday. The food donations stay in each community, going to help local residents.
"We just heard from an agency earlier that the food that they received in 2019 lasted seven months for them to be able to create food boxes and hopefully end hunger here in our region," Fowler said.