Arlington Helps to Stamp Out Hunger

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Arlington Helps to Stamp Out Hunger

Food set outside on the porch for collection.

Food set outside on the porch for collection.

Cammie Kuwana

Food set outside on the porch for collection.

Cammie Kuwana

Cammie Kuwana

Food set outside on the porch for collection.

Lizzie Koumans, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Every year, on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers and volunteers across the US come together to help rescue millions of struggling families through the Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive. The food drive, started in 1993, has been able to provide support for the millions of people facing hunger in more than 10,000 cities and towns in the US. In the past 25 years, the drive has been able to deliver more than one billion pounds of food, making Stamp Out Hunger the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

In Arlington, food donations are left by mailboxes on the morning of the drive, and then collected by rural letter carriers, other postal employees and volunteers. The collectors pick up the food products and deliver them to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), where the items are then used to restock food banks and distribute to families in need. Charles Meng, the Executive Director and CEO of AFAC, has been working with AFAC for the last 11 years and has not only witnessed the large effects of the food donations, but also the improvement throughout the years.

“In 2019, Arlington neighbors rallied together and donated more than 27,000 pounds of food. The amount of food donated has been steadily increasing over the past several years, likely because awareness about the drive is spreading …. AFAC serves nearly 2,400 families every week. Each and every family is receiving some of the Stamp Out Hunger food, week after week,” Meng said.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) organizes the food drive annually and witnesses its effects on families firsthand. Fredric Rolando, the President of NALC, was a letter carrier himself for over 35 years before assuming the leadership position.  

“Because [letter carriers] are such a consistent and familiar presence in countless neighborhoods, we are all too familiar with the unfortunate reality of ongoing hunger in America …. Nearly 49 million, one in six, are unsure where their next meal is coming from. This includes 13 million children as well as about five million seniors over age 60, many of whom live on fixed incomes and often are too embarrassed to ask for help,” Rolando said in a video for NALC.

The food drive arrives at a perfect time each year, coming just as food pantry shelves, which are usually filled to capacity during the winter holidays, begin to reach critical levels of emptiness. The thousands of pounds of food donated in the drive are able to reach families in critical need of food, but also help in bringing communities together.

“We always know that each individual letter carrier does it out of their feeling of wanting to give back to their community and we understand that this is something that is done out of the goodness of their hearts. We are very grateful for their efforts,” Roxanne Rice, the Executive Director of Food for Others, said in a video for NALC.

If you missed the opportunity to contribute to the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive this year, AFAC is still open for food donations year-round at 2708 S. Nelson St. anytime Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information on how to donate, visit: https://afac.org/donatepage/donateform/donate-food/. Options for donating food online are also available through: https://afac.org/donatepage/donate-give/.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has been successful for years on end, providing a reliable source of food for millions of people that are hungry and in need of the support provided by local food pantries everyday. Whether you were able to support the food drive this year or you missed the date, make sure you are doing your part to ensure the health and safety of everyone in your community.

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