Despite an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent in May and tough economic times across the nation, working families responded with amazing generosity by donating a record 73.4 million pounds of non-perishable food in the 17th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” national food drive by the Letter Carriers (NALC) to restock community food banks and pantries.
In more than 10,000 cities and towns, letter carriers collected the food May 9 as they delivered mail along their postal routes. It is the nation’s largest one-day effort to address hunger.
NALC President William Young said:
This is an amazing testimony to the generosity of the American people, even as they themselves struggle to make ends meet in these hard times. Our members take pride in being able to serve their postal customers and help them assist millions of needy Americans, including many working families, children and the elderly.
Last year, letter carriers collected 73.1 million pounds of food. This is the sixth consecutive year that more than 70 million pounds was collected, which brings the total for the drive’s 17 years to more than 982 million pounds of food.
For the second year in a row, West Coast Florida NALC Branch 1477 in St. Petersburg took top honors after carriers there collected nearly 1.76 million pounds of donations.
The food drive was especially important this year as millions of families struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table. Countless families are destitute-many where a job loss has hit for the first time-and with little or no income to feed, cloth and house themselves. Before the drive began, Young said that more than ever food banks, pantries and shelters need our help this year. As families count on them for support, they’re counting on us and we must not back off on our commitment.
Shannon Zapf, the director of Harvest Food Bank in Valdosta, Ga., which received 152,000 pounds of food from the drive, told WALB News:
History has shown us that when things are going a little bit wrong somewhere, our neighbors pull together.
Young also noted that donations are particularly critical at this time because most school lunch programs are suspended during the summer months and millions of children must find alternative sources of nutrition.
Gayle Whitehead, executive director of Crisis Ministry in Davidson County, N.C., says the food drive “keeps us going through the summer months.”
People don’t think about hunger in the summer. This keeps the pantry stocked.
“You went down the street and left and right there were bags hanging on the mailboxes,” DeLand (Fla.) Branch 2591 President Betty English told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
You could tell people went shopping just for this. It was so great, these little towns pulling together like this.