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HOT TOPICS
NALC remembers Family Circus’ Bil Keane: Artist’s generosity helped promote food drive throughout country

Food Drive coverage in the July 2011 Postal Record...

...and in the NALC Bulletin

Thanks, Campbell Soup! On top of the food collected during the Stamp Out Hunger drive, drive national partner Campbell's is giving 1 million pounds to another national partner, Feeding America, plus another 96,414 pounds, one for each person who "friended" the drive on Facebook. This extra food will be distributed to food banks across the country with special needs following the recent storms. Campbell's will also give 1,000 cans to each of the top-collecting branches (see table, left).
Thanks, Valpak! More than 44 million of Valpak's familiar blue envelopes were mailed to customers across the country to once again advertise the food drive.
Thanks, AARP! The organization that helps people 50+ live their best life and its Drive to End Hunger provided 3 million paper bags which helped the food drive net almost 4 million pounds of food.

Postcard
Entertainer Nick Cannon joined this year's effort to "Stamp Out Hunger."
Click here to visit the official Stamp Out Hunger website.

Uncle Bob's Self-Storage is an official sponsor of the NALC Food Drive.
Uncle Bob's

Drive to End Hunger
Questions regarding the food drive should be directed to Linda Giordano by mail at NALC Headquarters, by email to giordano@nalc.org, or by phone at (202) 662-2489.
Facebook"Like" the Food Drive on Facebook TwitterFollow the Food Drive on Twitter
A brief history of the Food Drive
Food Drive articles in the Postal Record and Bulletin
 

 
  TOP COLLECTING BRANCHES
  NOTE: The complete list of individual branch results is included in the July issue of The Postal Record.
  Category I (2,000+ members): Br. 3, Buffalo/Western New York, 1,383,220 lbs.
  Category II (1,500-1,999 members):
Br. 421, San Antonio, 755,320 lbs.
  Category III (1,000-1,499 members): Br. 1477, West Coast Florida Mgd., 1,770,814 lbs.
  Category IV (700-999 members): Br. 458 Oklahoma City, 1,522,252 lbs. *
  Category V (500-699 members): Br. 2008 Clearwater, FL, 1,004,250 lbs.
  Category VI (350-499 members): Br. 826 Ponce, PR, 1,052,000 lbs.
  Category VII (200-349 members): Br. 2072 Fort Myers, FL, 408,300 lbs.
  Category VIII (100-199 members): Br. 815 Billings, MT, 294,460 lbs.
  Category IX (50-99 members): Br. 1103 Ocala, FL, 284,700 lbs.
  Category X (1-49 members): Br. 714 Ohio Valley Merged, OH, 283,300 lbs.
 

* Br. 869, San Juan, PR letter carriers collected 282,000 lbs. of food, but the branch also received a bulk donation of 2,055,000 lbs. of milk products from Indulac. Details to come!

   
Super Saturday

Carriers’ Food Drive
arrives in nick of time
for victims of natural
and economic disasters

America’s letter carriers came to the rescue of millions of struggling families throughout the United States again this year, collecting more than 70.6 million pounds of nonperishable food and delivering it to community food banks, pantries and shelters that provide the needy with a lifeline of basic nutrition to help carry them through these difficult economic times.

NALC members, along with thousands of rural carriers, other postal employees and citizen volunteers exhibited tremendous sacrifice and generosity on May 14 during the union’s 19th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive. And that spirit of selfless giving did not go unnoticed.

For example, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano in California expressed its thanks in a posting on its website: “Next time you see letter carriers, tell them thank you for delivering the mail and caring about others in our community. Our food bank could not do what we do without the support of the National Association of Letter Carriers and you, our supporters. Together, we are ‘Stamping Out Hunger!’”

In Jamestown, NC, Tom Barron of the House of Prayer, which helps men who are recovering from addiction, emphasized to The Jamestown News the value of the NALC food drive and carriers’ generosity.

 
The 2010 Food Drive wrap-up video. Click here to watch the full-size version on the NALC's YouTube channel.  

“I wanted them to know how appreciative we are of their efforts that make it possible for us to continue our mission in getting these men the help they need to turn their life around,” Barron said. “The carriers could very well be saving someone’s life.”

South Brunswick Food Bank official LouAnne Wolf wrote in the New Jersey food bank’s newsletter, “We are thrilled that the Kendall Park Post Office does this every year and the carriers take the extra time ... to do the pickups. This is a huge help we have come to depend on.”

In Canton, IL, it rained on Food Drive Day, but that didn’t stop the drive from being a success. “The carriers were soaking wet, but we still had fun,” drive organizer Catina Walker told the Canton Daily Ledger.

Another great year

 

Overall, the NALC was able to provide critically needed goods to food distribution centers in every part of the nation. At last count, the official tally for this year’s drive was up to 70.6 million pounds of food collected in more than 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states as well as U.S. territories. The collection figure brought the 19-year total to more than 1.1 billion pounds.

In some areas of the country, the success of this year’s drive often resulted from local distribution of special paper or plastic bags bearing the food drive’s logo. Many communities also donated food in record numbers because of citizens’ keen awareness of an immediate need to support those living in areas ravaged by recent tornadoes and floods.

NALC President Fredric V. Rolando thanked all who participated in the drive. “Six days a week, letter carriers see firsthand the needs in the communities they work in, and we’re privileged to be able to help the needy and to lead an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” he said.

 

The president highlighted the efforts of the nation’s letter carriers, their families and countless volunteers for their help in making the drive a success. He also thanked the NALC’s national partners in the drive, including the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, U.S. Postal Service, Campbell Soup Co., Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, United Way Worldwide and its local United Ways, AFL-CIO, Feeding America food bank network and Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.

Rolando also noted with appreciation the boost provided by “Family Circus” cartoonists Bil and Jeff Keane, who annually provide special artwork to promote the drive.

Confronting challenges

 

West Coast Florida Branch 1477 in St. Petersburg captured the title as top branch in the nation by collecting 1,770,814 pounds of food. Neighboring Tampa Branch 599, the 2010 champ, came in second this year with 1,729,382 pounds. (The Postal Record magazine contains a list of the highest-collecting branches in 10 membership categories. In recognition of their achievement, the top branch in each category will receive a plaque plus a 1,000-can donation for a designated food bank from Campbell Soup Co.)

This year’s national total of 70.6 million pounds of food collected was down from last year’s record 77.1 million pounds picked up. And local totals often reflected the national trend.

For example, Springfield, OH Branch 25 officials reported a large drop-off in collections from last year, and officials there said the reason appeared to have been a shortage of food drive reminder postcards.

 

Only 80 million cards were distributed nationally this year, a reduction from the 126 million sent last year, because of a severe drop in funds made available to cover printing costs. Efforts already have begun to solicit help in restoring full postcard funding for the 2012 drive.

In Passaic County, NJ, donations from the drive were off by 60 percent, and in neighboring Bergen County, food bank officials said they will have to decide whether to scale back on how often a family can come in for food.

“We rely on the postal workers’ food drive every spring, but for some reason they brought in 25 percent less food than last year,” Patricia Espy of Center for Food Action told the Bergen Record.

 

Poor weather in Gainesville, FL, seemed to be at the root of lower-than-anticipated donations. Even so, officials said the haul should help keep food pantries stocked through the winter holiday season.
A cold rain also came down in the St. Croix Valley of Minnesota, but carriers still managed to collect 14,300 pounds of food there.

“The postal carriers really went above and beyond this year,” said Jerry Serfling of the St. Croix
Valley Labor Assembly.

In some places where weather-related calamities had recently occurred, collections actually increased.

For example, in Alabama, which had been hard-hit by a number of tornadoes just a few days before the drive, residents used the collection effort to respond in a big way to the disaster. Donations in Andalusia jumped from 3,000 pounds in 2010 to 13,000 pounds this year, and in Florence, the collections also quadrupled over last year, from 55,000 pounds to 225,000 pounds, all to help residents of storm-ravaged Franklin, Lawrence and Marion counties.

 

“Our letter carriers were blown away by such generosity,” said Florence Branch 892 food drive coordinator Steven McCrary.

In Clanton, AL, local news accounts described carriers coming into their post offices “loaded with bags.”

“I’ve been working here since ’91, and this is the most I’ve seen collected,” said rural carrier Timmy Gibson told the Clanton Advertiser.

In New Port Richey, FL, the 85,000 pounds of food collected during the May 14 drive was enough to allow the Volunteer Way food bank to divert some of the collections to tornado-stricken communities in Alabama and Missouri.

An impressive amount

 

Despite the drop in national collection totals, this year’s results still reflected a remarkable accomplishment: This was the eighth consecutive year that the drive surpassed the 70-million-pound mark. In fact, these past eight years mark the only time the 19-year-old national drive has collected more than 70 millions pounds.

Jean Kempe-Ware, a spokesperson for the Oregon Food Bank, expressed the feelings and gratitude of most food-distribution officials nationwide, even though collections in her state dropped by almost 19 percent from 2010.

 

“It’s still a phenomenal amount to collect in just one day,” Kempe-Ware told The Oregonian.

That sentiment was echoed in Kearney, NE, where Jubilee Center director Steve Glover said postal workers “always do an outstanding job for us, and without them and the United Way, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish this great task that we have before us.”

Reports in California were varied.

Napa-area carriers collected a record 43,682 pounds—they even ran out of food storage containers and needed to borrow grape bins from nearby wineries to help manage the food overload. They pointed to the distribution of 30,000 paper bags, compliments of International Paper Co., as the spur to the large amount of donations.

 

“There’s absolutely no question in my mind (the paper bags) made a huge difference,” Napa Branch 627 carrier April Salvadori told the Napa Valley Register.

Two hundred miles to the south in Fresno, however, donations fell well short of the goal, with
a number of residents telling the Fresno Bee that they were unaware of the collection because they did not receive their usual advance postcard.

The newspaper reported comments by a resident, Bill Praetz, who has donated food in the past but said he was not aware of the drive this year.

 

“Usually, he said, he and his neighbors put out bags and boxes of food,” the newspaper reported. “This year, none did.”

Paper and/or plastic

Bright blue plastic bags made up for the shortage of postcards in Hannibal, MO, and led to a
doubling of last year’s collection amount.

“It’s an extra delivery for Hannibal’s letter carriers and it really paid off,” said Mike DeSantis, regional coordinator of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. “This year, the letter carriers were kind enough to go the extra mile. This is the first year we’ve done it, and I think it made a huge impact.”

 

Use of plastic or paper bags by branches—along with the postcards sponsored primarily by food drive national partner Campbell Soup—increased the haul in many areas. Bags provided by longtime supporters such as the Publix and Kroger grocery store companies again provided a tremendous lift to various branch efforts, and this year they were joined by AARP, Wells Fargo and International Paper Co. as key supporters of the drive.

AARP worked with the NALC on a pilot effort to test the use of paper bags instead of plastic ones. While plastic bags might be easier to carry, it appeared that people in Wichita, KS, filled their paper bags all the way to the top, resulting in a record amount collected.

 

The drive also was helped by extensive public service advertising by Campbell’s and Feeding America, whose messages reached millions of Americans via the Internet, newspapers and national magazines, and radio and television. Campbell’s also made a 1 million-pound donation of its products to Feeding America on behalf of the drive and gave more than 96,000 additional pounds in response to Facebook account-holders who clicked the “Like” button on that website’s Stamp Out Hunger page.

Musician, actor and host of “America’s Got Talent” Nick Cannon promoted the drive in numerous television and radio public service announcements as well as in magazine ads and during public appearances. The drive came at a busy time for Cannon, as his wife, singer Mariah Carey, delivered twin babies mere days before the drive.

 

Giving what they can

In many communities, including Torrington, WY; Washington County, MD; and Le Sueur, MN, local elementary and high school students helped out with the food drive, often bringing in donations to the school days before May 14 and then turning the collections over to their letter carriers.

Praise for letter carriers came from inside post offices as well as outside.

In Morganton, NC, Burke Station agent Dale Barrier applauded the carriers for collecting the donations.

 

“They are just wonderful, wonderful people,” Barrier told the Morganton News Herald. “You cannot overestimate their value or generosity in providing food to the needy of Burke County.”

A similar comment came in Mosinee, WI, from Postmaster Kim Borchardt to the Wasau Daily Herald.

“Our carriers have demonstrated once again that service to the community doesn’t end at the mailbox,” Borchardt said. “The Postal Service’s commitment to this worthy cause has never been greater.”

Western Wayne County, MI Branch 2184 letter carrier Betty Karsten explained to the Northville Patch
website that everyone in her community seemed to cut back on what they spent or donated.

 

“All families have been affected by the tough times, either through job loss or pay cuts, high gas prices, health cost increases, rising utilities and other household expenses cutting into cash flow,” she said. “Less people can afford to give and yet more people are in need. It’s a very sad situation.”

The amount of donated food was down in Hawaii by about 20 percent from last year, but reports indicated that the quality of the food had improved.

“Postal customers responded to our request for ‘most wanted’ high-protein food by donating a tremendous amount of canned meats,” Hawaii Food Bank official Mike Kajiwara told KITV Channel 4.

As one drive ends, preparations for another begins: The NALC already is hard at work to get ready for the 20th annual NALC National Food Drive on May 12, 2012—as always, the second Saturday in May—and the union continues its mission to help the millions and millions of men, women and children across American who face hunger in their communities every single day.

 
 
  © National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO