USPS food drive, nation’s largest, is Saturday

Stamp Out Hunger typically nets 2 million pounds of food in Washington; donated food can be left by mailbox

Staff writerMay 9, 2014 

The United States Postal Service, in conjunction with food banks all over the country, will hold its annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive Saturday. It’s the 22nd year of what has turned into the largest single-day food drive in the country, according to the USPS.

The scheduling of such a large-scale food drive is critical to fighting hunger year-round, said Robert Coit, the executive director of the Thurston County Food Bank .

“The timing is near perfect in that it’s at the end of the school year. That’s very intentional because one of the dynamics of food banks is that once school is out, the frequency of use goes up across the board.”

The battle against hunger remains a daunting fight. An estimated 49 million Americans, 16 million of whom are children, struggle to obtain enough food, according to a press release from the Postal Service.

Nationally, it is estimated that the food drive will collect 70 million pounds of food.

Washington state continues to do its part.

“Typically, the state of Washington has contributed upwards of 2 million pounds of food during the food drive,” said USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson.

The Thurston County Food Bank usually gets 120,000 to 150,000 pounds of food in the drive, Coit said.

“There’s a lot of giving around the holidays, but the letter carrier’s drive is the single-largest food drive of the year,” he said.

One thing that make this event a success is the ease of donating, Swanson said.

“All people have to do is put some nonperishable food products in a bag near their mailbox, or wherever they get their mail, and put it out by Saturday morning,” Swanson said. “The letter carrier will pick it up and take it back to their post office to go out to the food banks.”

About 80,000 food drive bags were distributed across Thurston County.

The food drive was started as a way for the USPS to make a direct impact on the communities in which they operate.

“The feeling was that this was a good thing to do and that it would be helpful for our local communities,” said Swanson. “The food that is collected in Olympia will stay in Olympia.”

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