Letter carriers across the country are gearing up for the 26th annual National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 12, when they will collect nonperishable food donations from customers to be taken directly to local food pantries.
Streator, Ottawa and Marseilles post offices will participate.
Last year, the letter carriers collected more than 75 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 64 million people. Currently, 49 million Americans — about 1 in 6 — are unsure where their next meal is coming from, including 13 million children and more than 5 million older than 60.
Food banks and pantries often receive the bulk of donations during Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.
To participate, leave a nonperishable food donation in a bag by the mailbox Saturday, May 12, and the letter carrier or another volunteer will ensure that donation gets to the appropriate pantry.
The Boy Scouts Troop 775 will assist Streator carriers. Carriers will leave the collection of donations curbside for volunteers to pick up within 15 minutes. Collections in Streator will go to the Streatorland Food Pantry.
The Ottawa Post Office and Letter Carriers Union are seeking volunteers to help pick up donations May 12. To volunteer, contact Sarah Thornton at 309-472-9081.
While all nonperishable donations are welcome, foods high in protein such as canned tuna, salmon, beans and peanut butter are most needed. Canned fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low-sugar cereals, macaroni and cheese dinners and 100 percent fruit juice also top the list of most needed items.
What to give:
Canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon), canned and boxed meals (soup, chili, stew, macaroni and cheese), canned or dried beans and peas (black, pinto, lentils), pasta, rice, cereal, canned fruits, 100 percent fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed), canned vegetables, cooking oil, boxed cooking mixes (pancake, breads).
What not to give:
Unlabeled cans, glass containers, perishable items, homemade items, noncommercial canned or packaged items or soda