Stamp out hunger food drive

Once you send off that sweet Hallmark card to Meemaw for Mother’s Day, make sure to set out some non-perishable foods by your own mailbox — it’s for a good cause and it’ll change lives.

The 27th annual National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive occurs this weekend, Saturday, May 11. The food drive has United States Postal Service letter carriers collect food donations to help support their local community.

Stamp Out Hunger is the largest single-day food drive in the nation, collecting roughly 75 million pounds of food nationwide last year for those in need. Locally, 130,000 pounds of food were donated. Since its inception, the program has collected over 1.5 billion pounds of food in total.

And yes, that’s ‘billion’ with a ‘b’.

“The mission is to literally stamp out hunger,” Justin Landrum, USPS letter carrier and union representative said. Landrum has been with the post office for 14 years and says the food drive event is a personal one for him.

“The food goes to good causes and good people,” Landrum said, mentioning organizations involving low-income summer students and veterans. “And it also goes to people like my mom. She’s 78 and on a fixed income. She gets a box every week from the food bank. Donations go directly to people like her.”

If inclined to help, all Santa Monica residents must do is set out non-perishable food items by their mailbox as early as possible for their letter carrier and carriers will take those items to the Westside Food Bank.

Allison Griffith, Director of Volunteers at the Westside Food Bank says items such as They protein/energy bars, breakfast cereals, pop tarts, pull tab cans, grab and go items, microwaveable soups, and peanut butter are preferred, though they’ll take any non-perishable food items that haven’t expired.

This time of year is crucial for donations, Griffith says. Westside Food Bank, which donates to organizations such as Veteran Lunch Bag and College Campus food programs through the drive, needs the local community’s help to get over the donation-dry summer months.

“Right before Thanksgiving and through January, people are very driven to give,” she said. “Summer months, donations go significantly down. This food drive is traditionally very nice to have to help carry through those summer months.”

Speaking of carrying, Landrum says he and his fellow letter carriers do take on the physical brunt of lifting all those donations into their trucks on top of delivering mail all day. While they occasionally get some assistance via Boy Scout volunteers, Landrum says he and his fellow coworkers have no qualms with the extra physical exercise added to their day.

“It’s all voluntary as far as the food pick up goes, and they do it out of the kindness of their hearts,” Landrum said of fellow letter carriers. “They know it’s for a good cause. There are smiles at the end of the day, we’re all proud of what we’ve collected.

For more information, visit http://www.stampouthungerfooddrive.us/

angel@smdp.com

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