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Letter Carriers Help Communities with Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

The Stamp Out Hunger food drive brought in more than a million pounds of food in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., last year. (Oregon Food Bank)
The Stamp Out Hunger food drive brought in more than a million pounds of food in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., last year. (Oregon Food Bank)
May 10, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Letter carriers are set to deliver on the largest single-day food drive of the year. Tomorrow is the 27th annual "Stamp Out Hunger," when folks can leave nonperishable food items in bags or boxes near their mailboxes and their local letter carriers will pick them up.

David Norton is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82, which covers the greater Portland metro area, from Saint Helens to McMinnville. He says the extra work is challenging but fulfilling, and he's impressed by the way communities chip in.

"It really struck me as a carrier for the first time seeing what, you know, a community can do and what letter carriers can do to help," says Norton.

The National Association of Letter Carriers partners with food banks on the drive.

According to Oregon Food Bank, more than 520,000 Oregonians are considered "food insecure," meaning they aren't sure where their next meal is coming from. Nearly 180,000 of those are children.

If people want to help after they've donated, Norton says they can give postal workers a hand carrying the heavy donations to their trucks.

Laverne Pitts is the development director with Yamhill Community Action Partnership, which serves about 15% of Yamhill County's population from its food bank each month.

She says because of the area's rural nature, they're trying something new for Stamp Out Hunger this year. The group is sending out envelopes for cash donations that will support Yamhill Community Action Partnership directly.

Pitts says donations are especially critical this year.

"Because of the government shutdown, there were some individuals that we served in January and February that in the past we would not have served,” says Pitts. “So, this year in particular, we have a more depleted reserve of food than what we've had in the past."

Norton says many letter carriers see the need for food assistance on their routes every day.

"Letter carriers deliver to everybody," says Norton. “We deliver to affluent neighborhoods and we also deliver to places that are less affluent, and where residents need to have the services available that the food bank gives to them."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR