Food pantries in the St. Louis area and throughout the nation are anxiously awaiting the food to be donated in the 26th annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ Food Drive. Just put your non-perishable donations in a bag or box by the mailbox, and they will be delivered to local agencies.
Terry Knoth, a Labor liaison for the United Way of St. Louis, explained the importance of the drive to the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council last week.
“It’s the largest nationwide, single-day food drive that there is,” he said. “It fills the pantries as kids come off of the school lunch programs and their families start going to the pantries for food. It carries the pantries through until the Boy Scouts’ drives later in October and November.
“Please help us spread the word, and put a bag of groceries or box of canned goods out that day for your letter carrier to pick up,” he said.
Letter carriers will leave reminder cards a few days before the drive, but most of them won’t have bags to leave this year.
“Use plastic bags if you’ve got ‘em, because sometimes the weather is not so cooperative on that day, and paper and boxes do fall apart,” Knoth said.
VOLUNTEERS ARE WELCOME
Food drive coordinators at local post offices can arrange for volunteer help from the community – for drivers or sorters, for example. Knoth said he will be working out of the Belleville post office that day.
Other participants include the United Food and Commercial Workers, AFL-CIO Community Services, United Way, St. Louis Area Foodbank and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.
The food drive started as individual Letter Carriers branches collected food for the needy. In 1991, the union joined with the AFL-CIO and the Postal Service to hold the drive in 10 cities, and it then became a nationwide effort. The 1993 drive gathered 11 million pounds of food using more than 220 branches, setting a new record for a one-day drive, but it kept moving forward, reaching 71 million pounds last year.
The Letter Carriers’ website details results from cities across the country and had this comment from Andrew Schiff of the Providence, RI, food bank:
“We are so thankful to the letter carriers and postal customers who teamed up to collect tens of thousands of pounds of food for Rhode Islanders in need of food assistance – all in one day!”