Despite lingering effects of an economic recession, residents of Oregon and Clark County, Wash., donated 1,388,904 pounds of food this year at the 19th annual Letter Carriers National “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.
The national event — the largest one-day effort to combat hunger in the country — was held May 14. National totals were not available at press time. However, over the last 18 years the Letter Carriers have collected more than 1 billion pounds of food.
This year in the Portland metropolitan area, members of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82 collected 383,850 pounds of food. When including Washington and Clark counties, the total increases to 557,513.
Letter Carriers in Clark County are represented by NALC Branch 1104. The drive also relies on the backing of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association.
“In a year with a lot of national disasters — and we’re still dealing with high unemployment — it’s pretty amazing to collect over a million pounds of food in one day,” said Jean Kempe-Ware, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Food Bank.
Kempe-Ware said the donations, though down about 19 percent from last year, are enough to serve more than 1 million meals for those in need.
“I just can’t express enough our gratitude to the Letter Carriers union, all of the sponsoring unions, all of the volunteers, and all who donated food. We’re very grateful,” she said.
After Letter Carriers collect the non-perishable food items left by mailboxes, they bring them back to their postal stations, where volunteers (more than 600 in Oregon and Southwest Washington) sort and box the items and load them on trucks, which are then taken to the Oregon Food Bank for final distribution.
Nearly 1,500 local NALC branches in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands are involved in the drive.
The U.S. Postal Service and Campbell Soup Company are major supporters of the drive, which has received a number of accolades over the years, including two presidential certificates of achievement.
Some 35.5 million people face hunger every day in America, including 13 million children.