This year marks the 26th year of the program, and collectively more than 1.5 billion pounds of food were collected since the inaugural event in 1993.
Last year, 72 million pounds of food were donated. The year before, a record 80 million pounds of food were donated. Letter carriers hope to top that number this year, and they urge local residents to help.
“At least six days a week, letter carriers see firsthand the needs of the communities they work in,” National Association of Letter Carriers president Fredric Rolando said, “and we’re privileged to be able to help those in need while leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans.”
To participate, residents may simply place nonperishable food items in or beside their mailbox before their mail carrier arrives Saturday. Letter carriers will pick up the donated items when they make their regular deliveries in the area.
“Think you might forget? Put it out Friday,” said retired Lebanon city letter carrier Millie Heston. “Oops, you did forget? Put it out Monday.”
According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, the most-requested nonperishable food items are cereal, pasta, pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meals such as soups, chili and pasta, 100-percent fruit juice, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned protein such as tuna, chicken and turkey and beans, canned or dry. Healthy low-sodium, low-sugar items such as oatmeal, other whole grains and canola or olive oil will also be accepted.
Frozen foods, homemade foods or home-canned food items should not be donated. Items that have expired or are in glass containers are not accepted.
“Too many people in this country are going hungry,” said Rolando. “We know this to be true, because we see it as we deliver to every address in America at least six days a week.
When donating several items at once, the items should be placed in a bag near the mailbox. There is no specific type of bag that should be used; a common paper or plastic grocery bag is accepted.
Donated items in Wilson County will stay local, according to Heston. All items collected by rural and city letter carriers will be given to the Wilson County Community Help Center.
“Take five minutes to choose items from your pantry to place in or beside your mailbox to help those in your community,” said Heston.
For more information about the food drive, visit nalc.org/community-service/food-drive.