The annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, the largest single-day food drive in the world, will take place for the 25th time on Saturday, May 13.
The food drive, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and supported this year by eight other organizations, has collected a total of 1.5 billion pounds of non-perishable food items since it began in 1993. Last year, the drive collected 80 million pounds of food nationally, topping the previous high of 77 million pounds. More than 10,000 cities and towns are part of the national program.
A year ago, nearly 160,000 pounds of food were collected in the 13 counties of the Chippewa Valley. All food donated to the drive remains in the communities where it was collected. In Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties, Feed My People Food Bank, St. Francis Food Pantry and The Salvation Army are among the largest recipients.
People wishing to donate can hang bags of non-perishable food items from their mailboxes on May 13, or leave them in a bag nearby. Letter carriers or volunteers will pick up the food for sorting and distribution.
Unopened canned goods (soups, fruit and vegetables, canned meats, beans, etc.) and dry goods (cereals, pasta, rice, etc.) are examples of items to donate, as is juice. Damaged, open, or expired food products should be avoided, as should anything in a glass container.
United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, one of this year’s supporting organizations, is recruiting volunteers to help collect and sort the donated food. It said this week that more volunteers are still needed.
Volunteers will be assigned to drive around postal routes in area neighborhoods and collect donations, or they will be assigned to central locations to sort the collected food items.
Another way to help this effort is to run a workplace drive before May 13, to collect nonperishable food items as a team. This will enable postal carriers to collect the food the day before the event.
According to the NALC, the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food is limited or uncertain for one in six Americans. Nonperishable food items are particularly needed at this time of year to restock food pantries before the demand increases during the summer, when school meal programs will no longer be available for children.
In addition to United Way, the 2017 national partners for Stamp Out Hunger are the U. S. Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (AFL-CIO), the AARP Foundation, Valpak and Valassis,
Further information is available at www.uwgcv.org/stamp-out-hunger. Volunteers can also sign up there either to help on May 13 or to organize a workplace drive, or they can sign up by calling James Peters at United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, at 715-834-5043.
(Note: James Peters is also the vice-chair of the CVPost’s board.)