Aug. 1, 2014—On Saturday, May 10, NALC members taking part in the 22nd annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive joined with rural letter carriers, other postal employees and countless volunteers all across America to collect almost 73 million pounds of food from postal customers to help restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country.
“Achieving another high-volume figure this year is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone who stepped up and got involved,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “It’s truly an impressive result, made all the more necessary by the slow-paced economic recovery and recent natural disasters.”
The drive—the nation’s largest single-day food collection effort—gathered 72.5 million pounds of food, the 11th consecutive year the drive has surpassed 70 million pounds. This year’s results bring the
total to more than 1.3 billion pounds since the national drive began in 1992.
As has become an annual tradition on the second Saturday of May, from major metropolitan areas to small rural communities, residents were asked to put out by their mailboxes bags of nonperishable
food donations, which letter carriers collected as they delivered mail along their postal routes. The goods were then sorted and distributed to local food banks and pantries in more than 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states as well as U.S. jurisdictions.
“The food drive really demonstrates the value of the unique postal network, which serves 152 million
addresses six days a week,” Rolando said. “It also shows the strong connection between letter carriers and the communities we serve—a bond that serves the nation well.”
The overall top-collecting NALC branch was the 1,200-member West Coast Florida Branch 1477, whose efforts netted 1,670,688 pounds of food. But it was not the only Florida branch to lead, let alone
to crack the million-pound mark. Sunshine State branches, in fact, were national leaders this year—with Central Florida Branch 1091, Tampa Branch 599 and Clearwater Branch 2008 ringing up totals that cleared a million as well.
Rounding out the national top five was Garden Grove, CA Branch 1100, with 1,158,725 pounds of food collected.
One of the reasons the food drive is held on the second Saturday of May each year is that, by then, community pantries have become depleted after the typical winter holiday rush of donation generosity.
Also, school lunch programs for children in need typically are not available during the summer, making the food drive’s timing all the more critical.
“The Postal Service’s universal network makes it possible for us to provide this critically needed assistance to the people who need it most,” NALC food drive coordinator Pam Donato said. “Also making it possible are the many groups who help us each year.”
The food that letter carriers collected on May 10 was delivered to local food banks, pantries and shelters, many of which are affiliated with Feeding America, a national partner in this year’s
drive. Also serving as national partners were United Way, AARP Foundations’ Drive to End Hunger, the Publix grocery store chain, Campbell Soup Co., the U.S. Postal Service, the National Rural
Letter Carriers’ Association, the AFL-CIO, Valpak, Valassis and Uncle Bob’s
Many local chapters of national volunteer organizations also stepped up to lend valuable assistance on the day of the drive, such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, National Guard units, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, various student groups,
local Rotary Clubs, local and state AARP groups and local United Way volunteers.
Specially designed food drive bags have been a real boost in encouraging postal patrons’ generosity in recent years. Many branches that managed to secure
bag sponsorship at the local or regional
levels reported big jumps in donations compared with previous years.
“Bags are expensive,” Donato noted,“and we realize it takes a lot of work for busy letter carriers to secure the backing needed to help defray the cost of ordering bags.” Donato noted that some branches had found success in getting local grocery stores to sponsor bags, while other branches found eager sponsor allies at community-minded businesses, such as local financial institutions or car dealerships.
“The food drive on its own generates such a huge amount of goodwill,” Rolando said. “Savvy local business-owners pick up on this, realizing that sponsoring bags and attaching their names to their
local drive helps us collect more food for those who need it at the same time that it boosts those businesses’ standing in their communities.”
The result of all of the outreach, promotion, and hard work? A grand total of 72.5 million pounds of food collected, some of our hungriest customers fed (at least for a while), and awareness raised that hunger continues to be a serious problem in this country despite our position as one of the most prosperous countries on Earth.
And as you might expect, with such a massive undertaking to consider, when one drive ends, preparation for the next one begins almost immediately. That’s why food drive coordinators and branch presidents across America already have started gearing up for what is hoped will be a historic Letter Carriers’ Food Drive on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
Questions regarding the food drive should be directed to NALC Director of Community Services Pam Donato at 202-662-2489 or at email@example.com.