Saturday, May 13, is the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.” Place a bag of non-perishable food items near your mailbox early that morning and your letter carrier will pick it up. The food collected will be donated to local emergency foodshelves.
“This year is the 25th anniversary of the food drive so it’s a big deal for us,” said Samantha Hartwig, food drive coordinator for NALC Branch 9 in Minneapolis.
Over the previous 24 years, the NALC food drive has collected more than one billion pounds of food nationwide — “which is pretty awesome,” Hartwig said.
“The need is still out there,” said Hartwig, a 13-year NALC member from Coon Rapids who walks delivering mail in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis.
“Our food drive will stock local foodshelves for six months,” she said. “We help a lot of working families. More than one-half million families visit foodshelves each year. That’s a lot of people.”
Hartwig added: “33 percent of the people we help with the food drive are children.”
Again this year, the United Food and Commercial Workers will pitch in to assist the NALC food drive nationwide.
In the Twin Cities area, UFCW Local 653 in Minneapolis and Local 1189 in St. Paul together are purchasing 300,000 paper grocery bags printed with messages promoting the food drive. “They’re really stepping up,” Hartwig said.
Letter carriers will distribute the bags along their routes a few days before the May 13 food collection.
“We find with the paper bags, people tend to give more food,” she reported.
“The week of May 8, you should get a postcard in the mail and either a paper bag or a plastic bag delivered to your house,” she said. (If you don’t get a bag, use your own bag, Hartwig said).
The food drive’s Twin Cities goal for this year is to collect 1.2 million pounds of food.
“With an increase in paper bags from last year, I’m hoping those paper bags will get us to our goal,” Hartwig said.
Meeting that goal, of course, depends on the response of the community.
In addition to donating food May 13, you also can help the food drive by volunteering that day at selected Cub Food stores, where NALC members will bring food collected along their routes.
You also can donate online from April 30 through May 17 and Land O’Lakes will match your gift, up to a total of $25,000. To donate online, visit the Second Harvest website.