Saturday, May 13, marks the 25th anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving—the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger food drive
Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face-to- face with a reality for too many: hunger. So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from their customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food to people who need help, including people in Jackson County.
Participating in this year’s Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. People can leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by their mailbox on Saturday, May 13, and their letter carrier will do the rest.
“Items needed most are nonperishable proteins like tuna, peanut butter and canned chicken, as well as canned fruits and low sodium soups and vegetables. Toiletries are always welcome too as they are not covered by food stamps,” says ACCESS Nutrition Director Philip Yates.
Last year, letter carriers collected 52,510 pounds of food in Jackson County and over 80 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 64 million people. Over the course of its 24-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and US Virgin Islands.
From 1 – 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, volunteers help unload the collected food from the mail trucks to get it to ACCESS. ACCESS distributes the food to 23 emergency pantries in Jackson County that provide approximately 3,000 food boxes a month, which equals about five days’ worth of food per box.
“We’re not seeing the hunger problem go away. Food stamps for many don’t last more than 2 ½ – 3 weeks,” says Yates.
The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans—1 in 6—are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger’s impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. And nearly 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes, and who are often too embarrassed to ask for help.
The food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.
Yates says the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive is the largest food drive both in Jackson County and in the country. Cash donations can also be made on the ACCESS website at accesshelps.org.