Letter carriers often see need that may escape others.
“We are in the community six days a week,” said Ben Jackson, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “When you engage that much with the community you serve, you realize what it needs and how you can help.”
The observations from local letter carriers prompted the NALC to launch the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. This year’s collection event was held on May 11 around Metro Atlanta.
The event is held right around Mother’s Day and as the school year starts to come to an end.
“The summer is hard for families with children because they are no longer guaranteed a meal, as they were during the school year,” explained Jackson. The timing of the event comes when local food banks usually start to run out of supply.
On the Friday before, letter carriers left plastic shopping bags in mailboxes encouraging residents to collect nonperishable canned goods for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The carriers then picked up the canned goods on their Saturday routes which were delivered to the food bank later in the evening. Volunteers, who are also United States Postal Service employees, stayed until late into the night to sort and organize the donated food.
“This is one of the easiest ways for our community to get involved with fighting hunger. The need is continually growing and we need all the help we can get,” said James Johnson, product rescue center manager at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
One meal is equal to 1.2 pounds of food. Trucks rolled in carrying over 130,000 pounds of collected food from the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. The food donations will help the local Atlanta community as well as other partner agencies.
In 2012, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive gathered more than 70 million pounds of food, bringing the grand total to 1.2 billion pounds of food collected in 20 years.
“The postal service is in the heart of every community,” added Postmaster General of Metro Atlanta Mazed Aziz, who started as a carrier. “It’s almost second nature for us to give back to the communities where we belong.”
NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the nation’s largest one-day food-collection drive.
In other news: The James M. Cox Foundation donated $100,000 to Covenant House Georgia’s “Opening Doors for Homeless Youth” campaign that will help the organization increase its capacity to provides crisis shelter and support services to Atlanta’s homeless youth ages 12 to 21. More than 15,000 youth have received support from the organization since 2000.
To volunteer with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, go to www.acfb.org.
For more information on the National Association of Letter Carriers, go to www.nalc.org.