May 4, 2015
by Fredric V. Rolando

Every day of the year, letter carriers are on the job delivering America’s mail and packages. We visit every address in the country at least six days a week—and, in many cases, seven days a week—so we are acutely aware of how hunger affects the communities we serve.

That’s why, on the second Saturday in May each year, so many of us work extra hard to get that job done while at the same time trying to help those in need as we support the Stamp Out Hunger national food drive. The food drive supports the Feeding America network and many other local hunger-relief organizations.

What makes our annual Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive truly successful is the amount of effort our people put in to help bring in as much food as possible.

It starts with one bag of food, left next to a generous patron’s mailbox. Then, that patron’s letter carrier picks it up as part of his or her normal rounds.

All of that picked-up food gets sorted next by volunteers at the carrier’s local office before it’s hauled off to nearby food banks and food pantries.

Put those individual efforts together and it’s not hard to figure out how we can collect millions of pounds of food each year. Last year, letter carriers and dedicated volunteers helped collect almost 73 million pounds of non-perishable food, bringing the total to more than 1.3 billion pounds of food collected since the national food drive began in 1992.

Driven by a desire to do something about this problem, and inspired by the success that a number of branches had experienced with local food drives, we started planning for a national effort in the early 1990s, working in full cooperation with the U.S. Postal Service.

We picked the now traditional second Saturday in May because we learned that hunger-relief charities begin to see their stocks run low by then, just a few months after the dramatic spike in donations they get during the November-to-December winter holiday season.

But hunger is a year-round problem in every community in the nation, from urban city centers, throughout suburbs and across rural America. In fact, one in six people struggle to get enough to eat, and one in seven are supported by one of Feeding America’s member food banks.

It’s important to remember that every active-duty letter carrier who takes part is a volunteer. No one is required to do it. And it’s not just active letter carriers by themselves who make it happen. There are countless family members, friends and concerned citizens who join in, as well as our sizable contingent of retired letter carriers, eager to continue to serve their communities long after they hang up their mail satchels.

I am thankful that thousands of us will once again take on this awesome responsibility on Saturday, May 9, because we want to and because of the feeling of pride and accomplishment we get by doing it.

We hope that the food drive will continue to reflect the strong connection between letter carriers and the communities we serve—a bond that serves the nation well.

*Fredric V. Rolando is the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. A member of Sarasota, FL Branch 2148, Rolando began his letter carrier career in 1978 in South Miami as a member of South Florida Branch 1071. After holding a number of local, state and regional-level leadership positions, Rolando was elected national director of city delivery by acclamation in 2002 at NALC’s national convention in Philadelphia. Seven years later, he was sworn in as the 18th president of the NALC following the retirement of William H. Young. In 2010, Rolando was elected president by acclamation during NALC’s national convention in Anaheim; four years later, he was re-elected president following national balloting held among the union’s 277,000-member active and retired members.

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Give Food

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