A.L. leads Austin in postal food drive

Published 11:39 am Monday, May 14, 2012

Mail carrier Troy Nelson sits in his mail car near the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Saturday. Mail carriers across the country held their annual food drive over the weekend. -- Jason Schoonover/jason.schoonover@austindailyherald.com

Local P.O. hopes to pull ahead by Tuesday

Mail carriers did some picking up along with delivering the mail Saturday.

Carriers across the country held their annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. As of Monday morning, Austin carriers had surpassed 8,045 pounds of food, with even more on the way.

This was the 19th year the National Association of Letter Carriers and National Rural Letter Carriers Association have hosted the food drive, but mail carrier Troy Nelson said the drive was held in Austin a few years before it became an annual, national event.

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“The citizens of Austin have been so generous,” Nelson said. “They come through for us every year.”

Citizens leave food on their doorsteps or mailboxes and mail carriers, along with volunteers, go around to pick it up.

Albert Lea residents donated more than 9,000 pounds of food Saturday during the event, surpassing Austin in what has become a friendly competition between the two cities.

“Preliminarily, they’re a little bit ahead of us,” Nelson said.

Last year, Mower County residents donated more than 12,000 pounds of food, more than Freeborn County residents. Nelson said the last time Albert Lea won the rivalry was two years ago, and Austin carriers hope the food they usually pick up Monday and Tuesday will help put them over the edge.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” he said with a laugh.

Nationally, the program brought in more than a billion pounds of food, according to Nelson.

“It’s had quite an impact,” Nelson said.

In Austin, the food goes to the Salvation Army, but rural carriers and carriers in small towns typically donate their hauls to other food shelves.

Austin residents who forgot to put out non-perishable food to donate shouldn’t fret, as mail carriers will still pick up donations this week.

Local mail carriers also hold another drive around November each year.