The Country's Largest Food Drive Re-Emerges In Novel Fashion In The Age Of The Coronavirus, The National Association Of Letter Carriers Continues To Help Feed Millions Of Needy Families In All 50 States
Here In Western New York, National Association Of Letter Carriers Branch 3 Donates $2,000 To Buffalo’s Food Bank, Donation Matched By NALC Headquarters
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - As we look for ways to beat the Summer heat, local food banks and church shelves around the country would normally be well-stocked this time of year, having benefitted from the 70 million-plus pounds of food received from the National Association of Letter Carriers' (NALC) annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive that is always held in May.
But this year, which marked NALC’s 28th year of carrying out the food drive, was different in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which forced the postponement of the scheduled effort for safety reasons - even as the pandemic-related economic shutdown worsened food insecurity.
Over the years, the NALC Food Drive's annual timing is considered to be key, because winter holiday donations usually dwindle from food pantries and homeless shelters, and school meal programs are not available during the Summer months.
So in order to deal with this urgent situation, NALC had to develop a new plan to address the problem of hunger that affects one in eight Americans - including millions of children, elderly and military veterans.
So instead of millions of generous Americans leaving food by their mailbox on that second Saturday in May for Letter Carriers to collect, as well as the legions of community volunteers who help sort and transport the food, the Union is continuing to work to accomplish the same result – although through different means.
Using the experience, contacts, presence in every zip code in the country and universal network that have made the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive the country's largest single-day food collection, NALC reached out to numerous Regional/State Food Coordinators - who in turn contacted the Union’s 1,900 Branches in every corner of the country about finding a new approach for these trying times. The Branches then spoke with food banks and pantries in their communities and worked to identify those willing and able to take part in this effort.
The result: A novel donor drive approach to fit the current circumstances.
Americans in big cities and suburbs, in small towns and rural areas, are now going to a website that was set up just for this, select a food bank close to them, and donate funds to help the pantry purchase food – and it’s set up in a manner that allows every dollar raised to go directly to purchasing food for the hungry.
To find a local food bank in your state, go to www.nalc.org/food
As always, the food procured will stay in the community to help residents in need.
And again, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), United Way Worldwide, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the Kellogg Company, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, CVS Health, Valpak, the National AFL-CIO and Valassis – have all returned to partner with NALC in such a vital way that continues to result in success.
"As Letter Carriers ‘in every neighborhood in the country six and seven days a week, we see the need and we cannot wait while food banks struggle, demand grows and people remain hungry,’" NALC President Fredric Rolando said. "Once ‘it is safe, we will return to the traditional food drive.’"
The 290,000-member NALC represents Letter Carriers across the country who are employed by the USPS, along with retired Letter Carriers.
Founded by Civil War Veterans in 1889, the NALC is among the country's oldest Labor Unions.
Here in Western New York, NALC Branch 3 represents 2,000 Members who are employed across the eight-county region by the USPS, says Branch 3 President David Grosskopf, Jr., who announced to WNYLaborToday.com that the Union’s Executive Board just approved a $2,000 donation to Buffalo’s Food Bank, which was matched by NALC Headquarters, meaning an increased and overall donation of $4,000.
“We ‘wanted to do something, so we’re also getting the message out to our Members and their families through Social Media and our newsletter.’ ‘We’re the ones picking up the donations, but that’s not possible now’ (because of COVID),” Grosskopf told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.
Looking forward, there may be a silver lining to this approach born of necessity, NALC Officials say: Rather than it being a one-day event, this effort continues - as needed.
And, food banks can purchase more food than a resident could buy and donate with the same resources.
To be sure, this approach is different than before, said NALC Representatives, but for individuals and families across the United States to be able to have a meal because of the generosity of others, the nourishment - and gratitude - will be exactly the same as before.