Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | 1:55 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Local letter carriers have lined themselves up with a major challenge, and it has nothing to do with rain, sleet or snow.
In conjunction with the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, local carriers will be collecting non-perishable food donations when they deliver the mail May 9, with the goal of collecting 1 million pounds of food.
Last year, carriers collected a little more than 750,000 pounds, according to food drive partner United Way.
“The main message that we want to get out there is it’s the easiest food drive in the world,” said Glenn Norton, President of the NALC Local 2502. “People just need to leave a couple bags of food by their mailbox, and we’ll do the rest.”
In addition to leaving donations next to their mailboxes, donors can drop them off the same day at any post office, any Goodwill location and several Albertson’s throughout the valley.
Norton said this is the 17th year of the national drive, but the 19th for carriers in the Las Vegas area. The food drive is a chance for the carriers to help meet a need that they see on a daily basis, he said.
“Letter carriers are a part of the community,” Norton said. “They’re out in the neighborhood six days a week. Most of them know their customers very well; many of them are on the same route for 20 or 30 years.”
Letter carriers and volunteers with the Three Square food bank will collect, sort and package the food for use by 22 local food pantries and charities, including the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services and St. Jude’s Ranch.
Jeff Ogden, vice president of community development for the United Way of Southern Nevada, said the food drive comes at a time of year when the donations that food banks received for the holidays traditionally begins running low. And with the current economic conditions, he said, the need is all the more pressing.
“We really are looking for about a 30 percent increase (in donations), because we know the need is greater,” Ogden said. “So we are really going out on a limb and trying to stretch ourselves to meet it.”
Ogden said all non-perishable food donations are welcome, but that high-protein items such as tuna and peanut butter are in greatest need.
“Tuna and peanut butter are always the two most popular products and the hardest for food pantries to keep on the shelf,” he said.
Pasta, pasta sauce and soup are valuable donations as well, Ogden said. Other necessities such as toilet paper, diapers and baby food will also be accepted.
Ogden said the goal of 1 million pounds can easily be met if every household just puts out a couple pounds, which is the equivalent of a jar of peanut butter and a few cans of vegetables or tuna.
The food drive is set up to make sure that the donations make it to the people who need it most, he said.
“Right now, a lot of people just need a little bit of assistance,” Ogden said. “They’re not looking for a handout, but this is a great way for people to help their fellow community members with just a little bit of effort.”