Mail carriers will be collecting more than bills this Saturday.
The National Association of Letter Carriers holds its annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 14, and residents in participating areas can leave non-perishable donations for local food banks next to their mail boxes.
Donors can also use an online form to select and pay for the fresh food they want delivered to the food bank of their choice in San Francisco, New York City, or Greenwich, Conn., throughout May.
The food drive collected 71 million pounds of food last year to serve the some of the 1 in 7 families in America who struggle with hunger, according to Outnumber Hunger, a hunger-fighting network that includes General Mills. Based on a definition by the US Department of Agriculture, 12 million Americans sometimes lack access to nutritious food for all family members.
In a 2016 briefing book for Share Our Strength, an advocacy network inspired by the 1984 Ethiopian famine and based in Washington, D.C., anti-hunger advocates point out that feeding children in particular can be a unifying force in the complex struggle to help Americans in poverty.
"At a time of extreme partisanship, both political parties agree that too many Americans are struggling economically and living in poverty; that the middle class is eroding; and that our children face an uncertain future," according to the briefing book. "While poverty is complicated – and the parties’ proposed solutions differ widely – feeding a child is not."
This food drive targets the post-holiday shortages food banks often face, when families who rely on food banks during rough patches can come up short. Unemployment can drive food insecurity as much as outright poverty and put families in the position of choosing where to place limited financial resources, according to Feeding America, a national food bank network.
One mother of three who benefited from the food bank Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee said paying for food became a problem because her husband lost his job just one year after she did. Her husband was set to start a new job shortly, and she was in welding school, but the food bank carried them through the tough period of unemployment.
"We constantly have to make tough choices like choosing between buying diapers and paying the light bill," the woman wrote on the website. "If it wasn’t for the food bank, we would definitely have to choose between paying for utilities and buying food."