Letter Carriers National Food Drive is Saturday

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Spring cleaning means more than just cleaning out the closets -- it also means cleaning out the cupboards. And this weekend, getting rid of hidden cans of food will be as easy as putting them next to the mailbox.
   The tenth annual National Food Drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, begins Saturday, when the "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive will be conducted in over 10,000 cities and towns throughout all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions, with letter carriers collecting food donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes.
   Donations by postal customers will be delivered to community food banks and pantries that serve the area where the donations are collected -- providing an opportunity for citizens to help needy families in their own communities. Tim Dean, Supervisor of Customer Service at the Elizabethton Post Office, said food items picked up in this year's drive will be taken to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Gray for distribution to its various agencies. Dean said 10,500 pounds of food items were collected last year by the rural and city carriers in Elizabethton and Carter County.
   The NALC National Food Drive has become the largest one-day food drive in the nation and is etched on the calendars of millions of Americans who want to contribute to help needy children, men and women in their cities and towns.
   Carriers collected 70.1 million pounds of food in last May's drive, bringing to 462.4 million pounds the total delivered to local community food banks and pantries during the first nine years of the nationwide effort.
   Making a donation is easy. Residents leave non-perishable food donations in a bag near their mailbox on Saturday, May 11, before their letter carrier arrives. The donation will be taken to the local post office and on to a local food bank or pantry.
   NALC and the U.S. Postal Service have joined with America's Second Harvest -- the nation's largest network of food banks -- in a national Call to Action to address the dramatic rise in the demand for hunger relief this year, and pledged to double their effort to make this year's drive a success.
   Over 99 million postcards, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company and the U.S. Postal Service's Priority Mail, have been mailed to postal customers to remind them of the drive. The postcards feature a cartoon by "Family Circus" artist Bill Keane.
   Food items suggested for donations include non-perishable foods such as macaroni and cheese, canned meats and sauces, cereals, and cans of vegetables, soups and fruits.
  Saturday was proclaimed "Letter Carrier's Food Drive Day" in Elizabethton by Mayor Sam LaPorte in a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Elizabethton Post Office with mail carriers in attendance.
   Mayor LaPorte urged all citizens to participate in the food drive by placing food supplies by their mailbox Saturday for pickup by their mail carrier.