Drive benefits local food banks
On Saturday, May 13, the National Association of Letter Carriers will launch its annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The single-day drive is considered the nation’s largest. Last year, 80 million pounds of food was collected nationally. In the 25 years since it began, more than 1.5 billion pounds of food has been collected.
Stamp Out Hunger coordinates with three local food banks in the Upper Keys – St. Justin Martyr Church and Burton Memorial United Methodist Church in Key Largo, and First Baptist Church in Islamorada.
“In Key Largo alone, food collected averages between 11,000 to 15,000 pounds,” said Upper Keys food drive coordinator Cindy Smith. “Altogether our community averages 30,000, but this year we’re looking to set the record.”
Smith has headed the Upper Keys efforts for eight years, and hand-picks volunteers to collect food. Letter carriers have the option of participating in the drive. And due to the enormity of the task, and the limited space in postal trucks, the volunteers provide much-needed support for the carriers.
“I really want to emphasize that people should not worry about their food being stolen. We have certified volunteers, identified by shirts and magnetic signs (on vehicles), picking up before and after the mail carriers,” said Smith.
Lending a hand in the effort is simple. Set out your non-perishable items before your letter carrier’s usual pick-up time. No items in glass containers. If your donated foods cannot fit in the mailbox, Smith advises to leave some sort of indicator that food drive items are next to the box.
The Upper Keys food drive helps to stock the food banks for the summer months, said Smith. In previous years, grocery bags were sent via mail, but this year, she said, there will be no bag.