Saturday, May 10, 2008

Letter Carriers' Union Food Drive, May 10, 2008

7:34 a.m. A few bags wait for the letter carrier in our apartment mail room.
11:25 a.m. He agreed to let me take his photo as he carried the bags out of the building to the mail van.

From National Association of Letter Carriers' Web site:

2008 Food Drive is letter carrier blitz against hunger

Letter carriers, with help from their sisters and brothers in the other postal crafts and thousands of other volunteers, will stage a blitz on Saturday, May 10, to combat hunger in America, conducting NALC’s annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive in every U.S. state and jurisdiction.

The drive, in its 16th year, is the largest one-day food collection in the nation and the biggest community service effort by any union affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

“The food drive is the hallmark of the union’s tradition of community service,” said NALC President William H. Young, “a very rich tradition that includes numerous heroic acts by carriers as they deliver mail along their routes, the year-long campaign to collect funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and watching out for the elderly through the Carrier Alert program.”

On the day before Mother’s Day this year, letter carriers will focus their efforts on restocking the community food banks, pantries and shelters that millions of American families will rely on throughout the summer.

The union settled on the second Saturday of May for the annual drive since food bank donations tend to wane after the winter holidays. This drop-off is particularly troublesome since the hunger problem is usually at its most critical during the summer when school breakfast and lunch programs—often the only source of stable nutrition for millions of children—are suspended.

The challenge this year is especially daunting. All signs point to a deepening recession, and with gasoline prices flirting with $4 a gallon, more and more families—including those of carriers—are looking everywhere for ways to save money. This economic squeeze comes while 35 million Americans are experiencing what the federal government refers to as “very low food security,” a euphemistic way of saying people are either already going hungry or are worried about where their next meal will come from.

In light of these conditions, President Young has asked each NALC branch to make a special effort to increase collection totals over last year.

“The need is very great, with many, many food pantries reporting record numbers of men, women and children seeking assistance,” said President Young. “And it will only get worse if our economy continues to decline.”

In 2007, the drive delivered 70.7 million pounds of non-perishable items donated by patrons to local food organizations—the fourth consecutive year the total surpassed 70 million pounds.

Last year’s figure brought the overall total for the nationwide drive’s history to 836.2 million pounds.

The U.S. Postal Service has pledged its assistance at every level, from enthusiastic support by Postmaster General John E. Potter and others at USPS Headquarters to hands-on backing by many area and district managers, postmasters and postal supervisors. Numerous carriers represented by the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association join the drive—some in rural-only post offices—and NRLCA President Donnie Pitts has been steadfast in encouraging his members to help make the drive successful in their communities.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney annually asks all of the labor federation’s affiliated unions, community services personnel, state federations and Central Labor Councils to help. America’s Second Harvest, the national food bank network, assists with extensive promotion, both nationally and locally. And the United Way of America, along with local United Way chapters across the country, provides important coordination and promotion in many cities and towns.

The drive has two national corporate supporters, Campbell Soup Company and Valpak/Cox Target Media, plus many local and regional backers, including food store chains such as Publix and Kroger, banks, newspapers, radio and television stations, and health care organizations, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Caremark.

Campbell Soup is by far the largest supporter, partnering with the Postal Service in printing 124 million postcards to alert the public to the drive. Campbell’s also provides a massive public relations boost that includes a public service announcement on television featuring the Harlem Globetrotters, a special “Stamp Out Hunger” coupon in newspapers the Sunday before the drive, scores of full-page advertisements in popular magazines, and Internet resources.

The soup giant also helps with the production of materials that assist NALC branches, including inflatable soup cans and yard signs. And Campbell’s will once again donate 1 million cans of soup for nationwide distribution, plus 1,000 cans of soup to food banks or pantries designated by each of the top food-gathering branches in 10 membership categories. President Young will also present plaques to those branches at the 66th Biennial Convention in Boston this July. (Details below.)

In addition to the postcards, set for delivery just days before the drive, Valpak is giving the country advance notice through 44 million direct-mail advertising envelopes that prominently feature the drive. These packets began arriving in mailboxes March 19 and will continue through April 25.

A new DVD, entitled “The NALC Food Drive: Making America a Better Place,” has been distributed to participating branches for use at stand-ups, branch meetings, civic gatherings and school assemblies. The disk includes a song about the drive, “Feed the Nation,” written by Royal Oak, Michigan Branch 3126 member Jim Hunter.

Shortly before the drive, branch coordinators will receive an official reporting form for the final results of their drive, with instructions on how to get that information back to NALC Headquarters.

Articles about the results of the drive, along with a list of branch totals and numerous photos, will appear in forthcoming issues of The Postal Record.

A Priority Mail packet has gone out to branch coordinators that includes the DVD, a special coordinator’s manual, forms for ordering English- and Spanish-language promotional postcards, the official drive poster and forms for ordering posters in bulk, at cost.

Questions about the drive should be directed to Drew Von Bergen, NALC Director of Public Relations and national food drive coordinator at 202-662-2489, by mail at NALC National Headquarters or by e-mail at vonbergen(at)

Additional information is available at

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