The Letter Carriers' (NALC) annual food drive collected 74.3 million pounds of food and was the second most successful in the program's 21 years. The food was used to restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country. The total was an increase of 5% over last year and was the highest in a decade.
NALC President Fredric Rolando stressed the importance not only of the food drive, but of the broader service postal carriers provide to their communities in a statement:
This demonstrates in clear fashion the value of the unique postal network, which goes to 151 million addresses six days a week. It also shows the remarkable connection between letter carriers and the communities they serve—a bond that serves the nation well. Letter carriers see firsthand the needs in the communities where we work, and we're honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans.
The NALC effort is the largest annual food drive in the United States and this year it touched 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
The drive was successful, in part, because of a diverse group of national partners: Feeding America, Campbell Soup Co., AARP, Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, Valassis/Red Plum, U.S. Postal Service, United Way Worldwide, AFL-CIO, Uncle Bob's Self Storage, GLS Companies, Source Direct Plastics and the Publix grocery store chain. Postal employees, union members, civil volunteers and Family Circus cartoonist Jeff Keane also assisted in the effort.
'We could not have accomplished this without the hardworking team of partners we have, all committed to ending hunger in our country,' said Pam Donato, NALC community services coordinator. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive never has been more important than in these times, with hunger a growing problem—affecting about 50 million people around the country, including 17 million children and 9 million senior citizens. Pantry shelves filled up through winter and holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs suspended during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
The recent natural disasters, such as tornadoes in Oklahoma and Super Storm Sandy on the East Coast, were particularly tough on food supplies this year and states like Oklahoma, Vermont and New Jersey set food collection records in response.