Letter Carriers Food drive set Saturday

Annual program aims to restock county food banks

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

Published:

 

o Bags will be delivered with the mail this week.

o Fill bags with food and place them by the mailbox Saturday.

o Do donate: Peanut butter, canned meats, canned and boxed meals, canned or dried beans and peas; pasta, rice and cereal; canned fruits, 100 percent fruit juice; canned vegetables; cooking oils and boxed baking mixes.

o Don't donate: Glass, rusty or unlabeled cans, homemade or noncommercial items (including canned or packaged items), open or used items.

o Missed it? You can drop off donations to any post office before May 14.

o Bags will be delivered with the mail this week.

o Fill bags with food and place them by the mailbox Saturday.

o Do donate: Peanut butter, canned meats, canned and boxed meals, canned or dried beans and peas; pasta, rice and cereal; canned fruits, 100 percent fruit juice; canned vegetables; cooking oils and boxed baking mixes.

o Don’t donate: Glass, rusty or unlabeled cans, homemade or noncommercial items (including canned or packaged items), open or used items.

o Missed it? You can drop off donations to any post office before May 14.

Walk & Knock, the huge homegrown food-donation drive that stocks Clark County food pantry shelves every December, is just a memory now — and so are the many tons of food it brought in.

That’s the darnedest thing about food: it disappears, and quickly. So do food donations, after the holiday-season bandwagon of giving winds down. Donations always dry up in the new year and as the weather gets warmer, food bank officials report.

So here comes the other big food-donation effort of the year: the National Association of Letter Carriers drive, which is set for Saturday.

Plastic bags will be coming to all Clark County postal customers in the mail in the middle of this week. Fill your bag with nonperishable food donations and set it by your mailbox early on Saturday, and your postal carrier will carry it off to where it’ll help feed your hungry neighbors.

“The Walk & Knock food is now distributed out, so this food drive helps the pantries make it from now through the slim summer months,” said James Fitzgerald, the operations director at the central Clark County Food Bank, which feeds the county’s many smaller pantries.

Fitzgerald said the National Association of Letter Carriers food drive is the second-largest such effort in Clark County — and, according to its organizers, the largest single food drive on the planet. Thousands of branches and hundreds of thousands of letter carriers all across the nation participate on the second Saturday in May. Since it began in 1993, the NALC drive has collected just under 1.3 billion pounds of food, according to its website; last year it brought in 74.4 million pounds nationwide. That’s the second-highest total ever.

Here in Clark County, Fitzgerald said, last year’s drive collected about 115,000 pounds of food.

“That food all stays here,” he said.

This year, three tractor-trailers at the Caples Avenue post office and two at the 136th Avenue post office will be awaiting the food, along with more than 100 volunteers — most of them from Wells Fargo. The tractor-trailers will take the food to the Clark County Food Bank.

“It is a great community effort to collect this much food in one day,” Fitzgerald said. “It wouldn’t happen without the letter carriers being willing to pick it up along with all their mail delivery duties, the post office being willing to let this happen … and then volunteers and community partners helping load the trailers to come to us.”

The NALC asks that you donate items high in nutrition and low in sugar and fat, such as: peanut butter; canned meats; canned and boxed meals (soup, chili, stew, macaroni and cheese); canned or dried beans and peas; pasta, rice and cereal; canned fruits and 100 percent fruit juice; canned vegetables; cooking oils and boxed baking mixes.

Please don’t include glass; rusty or unlabeled cans; homemade or noncommercial items (including canned or packaged items); open or used items. If you miss your letter carrier’s Saturday visit, drop off your food donation at any post office by May 14.

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