Stamp Out Hunger food drive to take place May 12

NILES — On May 12, postal carriers across the nation will be picking up more than letters and delivering packages when they stop at residents’ mailboxes. They will also be collecting food to help those less fortunate.

The community of Berrien County will have a chance to help postal carriers in their mission during the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive in Niles and Buchanan and across the nation on May 12.

During the annual event, which is put on by the National Association of Letter Carriers, residents place nonperishable food donations near their mailbox. A postal carrier or volunteer will pick up the food which will be donated to local food pantries. In Niles, the donations will support the Niles Salvation Army, St. Mary’s Christian Service Center and First Presbyterian Church. In Buchanan, postal carriers will collect the donations for the Redbud Area Ministries. At the Niles location alone last year, postal carriers collected more than 15,000 pounds of food. Nationally, the event collected more than 75 million pounds of food last year to support food pantries across the country.

Postal carrier Johnny Hernandez, who serves as the food drive coordinator, has participated in the event for the past 20 years.

“It’s an honor to be part of it,” Hernandez said. “We realize not everybody has it good. It’s much needed.”

For local pantries, the Stamp Out Hunger donations come at an ideal time when often donation stocks are low. This is because most food donations typically come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

“We walk in the community, so we see it on a daily basis,” Hernandez said. “It is one thing we can try to do throughout our community and help each other out.”

Hernandez said food insecurity is also a problem that can persist behind closed doors and that people may not notice if their neighbor is struggling to keep food on the table.

Hernandez recommended those that want to participate to put their donations by their mailbox by 9 a.m. While postal carriers will carry both food and mail during this day, they have scheduled volunteer helpers to help with the collection process. If food is not picked up, people can return the donation to their mailbox area on Monday where it will be picked up.

According to Hernandez, in the 25 years that the drive has existed, more than 1.6 billion pounds of food has been collected.  Many families in the U.S. struggle with hunger, more than 49 million Americans say they do not know where their next meal will come from, according to Stamp Out Hunger data.

“It makes us feel good that we are able to help out the community,” Hernandez said.

For more information: nalc.org/community-service/food-drive.

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