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Letter carriers help ‘Stamp Out Hunger!’

20th annual nationwide food drive Saturday

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 20th Annual Nationwide “Stamp Out Hunger!” Food Drive on Saturday.

“For two decades now, our annual national drive has proved critical in helping millions of American families — our customers — who are struggling to make ends meet during this continuing recession,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando.

The association and its members, along with members of the National Rural Letter Carrier Association, voluntarily participate in the drive each year and have netted more than 1 billion pounds of food since its 1992 inception.

“With help from our brothers and sisters in the rural craft, alongside other postal employees and volunteers, letter carriers will do what we can again this year to help all Americans,” said Rolando.

Each year, the drive — deemed the nation’s largest single-day food-collection event — is held the second Saturday in May. And U.S. Postal Service customers are asked to leave non-perishable food donations in a bag near their mailbox, before their letter carrier arrives on Saturday.

The food collected during Saturday’s drive will be delivered to local community food banks and food pantries for distribution.

More than 73 million pounds of food were collected nationally in 2011, with more than 300,000 pounds collected in metro Atlanta, according to officials with the U.S. Postal Service.

“Sixteen percent of all Americans are at risk of hunger — uncertain where their next meal may be coming from,” said Rolando. “That includes one-in-five children under the age of 18, plus 4 million seniors who are forced every day to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food.”

The U.S. Postal Service reported that nearly 49 million Americans (one in six people), including 16 million children, are struggling with hunger.

Its 210,000 letter carriers around the country will collect food donations left at mailboxes of residents and deliver them to food banks and other hunger relief organizations.

While all non-perishable donations are welcome, foods that are high in protein such as canned tuna, salmon, beans and peanut butter are most needed. Canned fruits and vegetables, canned soup, whole grain, low-sugar cereals, macaroni and cheese dinners and 100 percent fruit juice also top the list of most-needed items.