Help postal carriers Stamp Out Hunger

Sun-Gazette

This year's rains have more than ended California's drought, but it has also left many of the neediest families without work.

The rains have halted much of the picking season that employs thousands of farmworkers in Tulare County. Those families are more dependent now on local food closets than ever before at a time when food supplies are low.

That's why the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) is asking for your help in feeding local needy families. NALC will hold its annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive this Saturday, May 14.

The post office sent out postcards and bags several weeks ago detailing how people can donate. Non-perishable food items like canned meats and fish, canned soup, juice, pasta, canned vegetables, cereal and rice should be placed in a bag and set out next to your mail box. Letter carriers will pick up the bags on their normal route.

"It's probably the easiest way to donate food and helps a lot of people every year," Isaac Gonzales, Exeter's NALC president, said. "Plastic bags are better in case it rains."

While it is easy for you, Gonzales said letter carriers work especially hard to keep the mail running on time.

"We have to hustle to still get the mail delivered on time," Gonzales said. "It generally only adds a few seconds to each stop, but sometimes we have to skip our breaks to make it all work. But we don't mind because we know people need it. I don't know how the food closets feed all those people even with this drive."

Gonzales said even rural carriers who deliver far outside the city limits will be collecting at the mailbox. He said each carrier knows of a family on his or her route that is in need of help.

"We aren't nosy, but we can tell when people are struggling so it is good to participate in something like this," Gonzales said. Participating post offices are Cutler, Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Ivanhoe, Lindsay, Orosi, Porterville, Three Rivers, Tulare, Woodlake and Visalia offices at Beech, Lovers Lane and Town Center.

After it is collected, the food is distributed to needy families by Foodlink's network of food pantries. All of the food stays in the local community.

Last year Foodlink received more than 90,000 pounds of food from the drive. The drive is one of the largest in the nation. In 2004, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive brought in more than 70 million pounds of food from more than 10,000 cities and towns throughout the U.S. The total eclipsed the previous record, set in May, 2001, by nearly 2 million pounds.

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