Months of preparation for the 13th annual NALC National Food Drive came to a close with massive media coverage across the nation; a live appearance by Long Island, NY Merged Branch 6000 on CBS television; a regional kickoff at Campbell Soup headquarters in Camden, NJ; and countless proclamations and endorsements all aimed at urging tens of millions of American to donate food on May 14.
Communications Workers union President Morton Bahr sent a letter to all CWA local presidents to encourage participation by themselves and their members. “Let’s do our part to assist our brothers and sisters at the Letter Carriers in this vital community effort,” Bahr wrote.
On March 10, a delegation of letter carriers from Long Island Merged Branch 6000 in New York were featured on CBS News’ “The Early Show” and interviewed by weatherman Dave Price.
Later the same day, Campbell Soup President Douglas Conant kicked off the drive in South Jersey by announcing that Campbell’s was earmarking 10 million cans of its annual charitable donation in the name of the NALC Food Drive. Conant and letter carriers from several South Jersey branches then joined to pack up a truck with Campbell Soup headed to a local food bank.
Need Even Greater
One thing became abundantly clear in media reports in advance of the drive – the need is as great this year as ever, with more and more people utilizing food pantries and shelters.
Dawn Wallace, food drive coordinator for Br. 47 in Denver, explained that letter carriers’ jobs make the event a natural. "We’re out there every day with the people,” Wallace said. “We see the people that are struggling, the neighborhoods that are struggling, the people that need the help.”
“Every day letter carriers see the faces of hungry people on their routes,” Lone Star Br. 132 President Earl Hibbs told The Paris (TX) News. “On May 14, they will be able to help put smiles on those same faces.”
“Many of the recipients are from working families – people who just need a helping hand to get through some tough times,” said Salt Lake City Br. 111 President Mike Miller.
You Realize Problem
In the Rogers School District in Northwest Arkansas, half of all elementary school pupils qualify for free or reduced-price meals. “Once you get off the (Interstate) 540 Corridor, you realize we’ve got a real hunger problem out there,” said Pete Sonetz of the Ozark Food Bank.
Shel Kolner of Jewish Family Services told the Las Vegas Sun that the pinch is just as hard for smaller agencies like his. “We see 60 families a week coming to us for food – that’s triple what it was last year,” Kolner said.
The Maui News wrote that it is a sad irony that in a community that is wealthier than most, there are families struggling to put food on the table. “Finding your kitchen bare is an annoyance for most,” the newspaper added. “For too many on Maui, it means going to bed hungry.”
The Naples (FL) Daily News ran a thankful editorial that concluded: “Hats off to the mail carriers for this very special pickup and delivery.”
John Harding, coordinator for the drive for Br. 154 in Marietta, Ohio, explained to The Marietta Times what the generosity of his postal customers means to him. “Walking up to someone’s mailbox and seeing a big bag of food has always touched me,” Harding said. “It’s phenomenal. It’s a humbling event.”