Every day, millions of Americans live in challenging situations, uncertain where their next meal will come from or if it will come at all. They’re our neighbors, family members, and our friends. They are children and seniors, single moms and single dads, and college students. Many are families working two and sometimes three jobs, while others are struggling to pay medical bills, and some are veterans.
Every day, thousands of letter carriers walk through American communities, often coming face to face with individuals and families who are challenged to make ends meet. So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from postal customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food for people in Oshkosh, Omro, Winneconne, Berlin, Eureka, and the surrounding towns and villages. This year’s letter carriers’ food drive coordinator Kari Wanish states, “My goal is to carry on the proud tradition and give all my energy to coordinating another successful NALC food drive.”
So, why do the letter carriers conduct this drive? 42 million people or 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure which means they live at risk of hunger and not knowing where the next meal is coming from. 13 million or 1 in 6 children are living in a food-insecure household and some experience developmental issues such as delayed language and motor skills, and increased social and behavioral problems. Over 5 million seniors (50+) currently face hunger in our country with 63% of our elderly citizens choosing between paying for groceries and getting medical care. In Oshkosh and Omro, the seven local food pantries have tracked a monthly average of 3,800 households coming through their doors. More than 1,000,000 pounds of food is distributed from the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry alone, stated Executive Director, Terri Green.
For more than 25 years, letter carriers have been committed to a food drive that has delivered more than 1.6 BILLION pounds of food in communities across America. During that same time, locally, letter carriers have collected more than 1,040,000 pounds of food for local food pantries. According to Hussain Sattar, manager of Fr. Carr’s Food Pantry, “Each week more than 150 people come through and receive about 35 pounds of food for their families, so the food we receive is extremely important to our pantry program.”
Life can deal a difficult hand to many hard-working people, and the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Food Drive can make a positive difference for them. Many Oshkosh Schools have more than 50% of students qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program. So, the need for food during the summer months increases when these children are out of school.
Letter carriers will be delivering a plastic bag for households to use to place their non-perishable items by their mailbox. All donated food items should be in cans, boxes or plastic bottles.
Food items most needed by pantries are peanut butter, canned soups and stews, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, canned sauces, juice, and canned tuna, chicken, and meats.
As volunteers will be assisting letter carriers, please place your items by your mailbox in the morning to ensure that the donation will be picked up.