When food drive bags start showing up in your mailbox this week, sit up and take notice. The intent is for you to fill them with non-perishable food items and then set them out by your mailbox for the 16th Annual Food Drive being promoted Saturday, May 10, by the National Association of Letter Carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across the United States.
Once again, postal workers are on their quest to collect food donations for the local food pantries working off this year's theme "Stamp Out Hunger," hoping to surpass last year's collection of 64,402 pounds of food.
Distribution began yesterday (May 7) of food drive bags with box holders and homes on rural routes receiving a food drive post card. Participants are asked to place their bag filled with the food items next to their mailbox before their mail delivery arrives on Saturday, being sure not to include any glass items.
An estimated 30 million people go hungry every day in America, including more than 12 million children. Jeff Borgrud, local project chairperson since 2001 and a letter carrier out of the North Fargo Trollwood station, said the event has grown to be the largest one-day food drive in the nation, with the food collections donated to community food banks, pantries and shelters for distribution to needy families.
Other letter carriers also assisting locally include Gene Rudolph, West Fargo; Matt Cogdill, Prairiewood; and Mark Flaa, Moorhead. Their postal stations are among the 1,300 NALC branches nationwide involved in the drive, joined in many locations by the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, along with other postal employees, family members, and other volunteers.
Saturn of Fargo and Hornbacher's Foods have served as sponsors for the drive since its inception with Hornbacher's coordinating bags and Saturn providing cars for the radio remote that precedes the event. "Their help has been key to our success," Borgrud said.
Postal personnel will pick up the bags while delivering their normal routes and they will be taken back to the respective postal stations, sorted and then delivered to the food bank outlets. Moorhead's collections will go to the Dorothy Day House; those from North Fargo and West Fargo will be taken to the Emergency Food Pantry; while South Fargo donations will go to the Great Plains Food Bank.
Rural carriers also assist annually with the food drive even though they are in a different union. "Their efforts bring in a significant amount of food and we are very grateful for their help with the drive," Borgrud added.
Campbell Soup Company and the U.S. Postal Service are major ongoing supporters, cosponsoring the printing of millions of post cards for delivery by letter carriers to encourage the general public to participate in the drive; as is Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, the nationwide direct mail marketing firm, which since 2004 has included promotions for the drive on the packets delivered to postal customers; America's Second Harvest, the nation's food bank network; the United Way of America and its local United Ways, and the AFL-CIO Community Services network.
For more information about the annual food drive, visit www.nalc.org.