This Saturday marks the 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger drive, in which local mail carriers gather food donations at your mailbox.
The Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the outgrowth of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ tradition of community service, a tradition exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carriers’ union over the years. These carriers, who go into neighborhoods in every town at least 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.
On the second Saturday of May, just set out your non-perishable food well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. Note that he or she will be delivering and collecting mail as usual, on top of collecting food donations, so that pickup time could be slightly later than usual. Your letter carrier might also have helpers. A good rule of thumb is to have the bags by your mailbox by 9 a.m.
All donations stay local to help those in need in the community.
For many years, a number of NALC’s branches (locals) had collected food for the needy as part of their community service efforts.
A 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 220 union branches collected more than 11 million pounds of food -- a one-day record in the United States.
From Alaska to Florida, from Maine to Hawaii, letter carriers did double duty on Food Drive Day -- delivering mail and picking up donations. The Food Drive 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.