Mid-May is typically full of gatherings in the Aberdeen area including a myriad of high school and college graduation ceremonies and receptions marking the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Since the mid-1990s, another tradition in our area began with the help of our local letter carriers, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. The NALC Food Drive is the largest single one-day food collection in the United States. Since its inception, over a billion pounds of food has been collected nationally including hundreds-of-thousands of pounds right in our community.
On the second Saturday of May your local letter carrier will pick up non-perishable food items left by the mailbox. That donation will go directly to the local food pantries in our area such as the Salvation Army and The Journey Home. The 2019 collection year brought in over 25,000 lbs, and immediately after the May floods of 2007 over 20,000 lbs. “At the end of the day, you can feel every pound of food you sort and lift, but the rewards are worth it,” Dan Bruckner, NALC Food Drive Coordinator said. “When you see it go from the mailbox to the sorting table, and off to the agencies all in one day, it really shows how awesome our community is a coming together to help one another.”
Each year the goal is to improve the process, but the greatest impact was providing plastic bags for the event which doubled the collection total in one year. The used plastic bags are then collected and donated to the Our Savior Lutheran Church where they are woven into sleeping mats and shipped around the world. Businesses, schools, and others have created fun opportunities to help give that kick-start the drive. In the past, we’ve seen a few cans collected all the way to truckloads of pallets provided, “My favorite part of this event is that nearly everyone in the community can participate and help make a difference. Even if it’s one can of food, it gets added in and helps feed someone in your own town,” said Angie Cleberg of United Way of NESD.
The NALC Food Drive provides 4-6 months of food product for our local food pantries. Food collected supports summer food programs including the Summer Sack Lunch program from the Salvation Army. To learn more about the NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive or help with the food programs in the area, please reach out to the United Way office. The 2022 food drive is scheduled for May 14th. //