Letter carriers looking to stamp out hunger

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stay couriers from helping feed people in need.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRCLA) of Austin are holding the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive this weekend. Letter carriers and volunteers from the National Honor Society will be gathering food placed in bags or boxes near mailboxes to be donated to the Salvation Army food shelf in Austin.

The event is held in conjunction with the National Carriers Food Drive conducted every second weekend of May.

Email newsletter signup

Over 26 years, letter carriers have collected 1.67 billion pounds of food, including 70 million pounds collected last year.

Letter carriers in Austin have collected over 255,000 pounds of food over the past 25 years, according to food drive coordinator Bob Rosel. Last year, Austin residents donated just under 17,000 pounds of food.

The most collected in Austin was 19,000 pounds in 2017.

“I think the biggest problem in places like Austin, Albert Lea, and most of the rural areas in the country is not hunger, but people being faced with making decisions as to what kind of food they can buy,” said food drive coordinator Bob Rosel. “They’re on budgets and they have to decide on home costs. One thing that gets left behind is good, nutritional meals. Sometimes they skip meals or buy the cheaper, less nutritional food. The reason to provide food at the food shelter is to make sure that people on the fringes of these issues can have nutritional meals. That’s why we have these food drives.”

Starting today, letter carriers will be delivering grocery bags to every Austin resident to use for food donations. United Food and Commercial Workers donated the bags.

To ensure all food is collected, Austin residents are asked to have donated food items in boxes or bags placed near their mailboxes no later than 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 11. If Saturday is inconvenient, or if residents forget, carriers will also collect food on Friday, May 10, and Monday, May 13.

Rural Mower County residents are encouraged to contact their local post office on how to donate. Carriers from Brownsdale, Rose Creek, Adams, Lyle, Elkton and Grand Meadow have participated in the past.

All food donated in Mower County will stay in Mower County. Collections will take place rain or shine.

The items the Salvation Army is in the most need of are:

  • Canned beans (baked/kidney/pinto)
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Tomato sauce
  • Crackers
  • Soup
  • Rice
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned/boxed potatoes
  • Dry/evaporated/condensed milk
  • Canned meats

Donations may also be brought to the Austin Post Office or to the Salvation Army. Monetary gifts are also accepted, but checks should be made out to the Salvation Army.

As an added incentive to donate, Rosel said letter carriers from Austin and Albert Lea hold a contest to see which community donates more food every year. The winner receives a traveling trophy, which Austin currently possesses.

“Last year, Albert Lea was about 300-400 pounds less than (Austin’s total), so it was pretty close,” Rosel said. “If I was to be completely honest, Albert Lea has beaten us more than we have beaten them. It’s a friendly competition. The real goal is to see how much we can collect for the food shelf, but it’s fun to compare and see how we’re doing.”