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South Dakota Letter Carriers Working to "Stamp Out Hunger"

South Dakota postal workers will be picking up and delivering food donations as part of a nationwide annual food drive. (iStockphoto)
South Dakota postal workers will be picking up and delivering food donations as part of a nationwide annual food drive. (iStockphoto)
May 13, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - As one in eight South Dakotans continues to struggle with hunger, this weekend the state's letter carriers will be working to help.

Saturday marks the 24th annual Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

The U.S. Postal Service is asking residents to set bags of non-perishable foods, cereal, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, next to their mailbox. Then carriers will pick them up and get the donated items to local food banks.

Samantha Hartwig, food drive coordinator for Region 7, has been a letter carrier for 12 years and says they hold the food drive in May to help stock food shelves for the summer.

"School is out of session in about a month," says Hartwig. "So a lot of families that rely on free and reduced lunches have lost that avenue to help feed their children when budgets are tight."

She says this weekend's food drive will help stock some South Dakota food banks for about six months. Last year, the nationwide drive brought in about 71 million pounds of non-perishable food.

As a veteran letter carrier, Hartwig says even though she'll be pulling double duty this weekend, she's happy to be a part of the food drive. She says letter carriers have a unique understanding of the communities where they work.

"We see the need out on our routes," Hartwig says. "We may know in the neighborhood which families are struggling and you might not know your neighbor is struggling, because people don't talk about it. So, it really is a good feeling when we see people putting out food by their mailboxes."

In addition to current active-duty letter carriers, some retired postal workers and local volunteers will be helping deliver the donations to local food agencies.

Over the past 24 years, the drive has helped collect more than 1 billion pounds of food nationwide.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD