The largest one-day food drive in the country for 23 years, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) has conducted an annual nationwide food drive on the second Saturday in May. Using the unparalleled postal networks, letter carriers collect non-perishable food donations on that day as they deliver mail along their postal routes. It is held in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Among the many local volunteer groups that will help are the United Way, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, National Guard units, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Boy/Girl Scouts, various student groups, Rotary Clubs and AARP groups. “Many people in this country struggle with hunger every day,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “We are honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans. Six days a week, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities where we work, and we’re committed to helping meet those needs.” For more than a decade, the drive has annually collected more than 70 million pounds of food. Over the course of its history, the food drive has collected 1.4 billion pounds of food to help feed our neighbors.
Here in Middlebury, our rural carriers are assisted by “bag buddies” who drive ahead of the carriers and pick up the bags of donated food by the mailboxes. All the food donated in Middlebury is then taken to the Middlebury Food Pantry where it is weighed, sorted, and stored for distribution to families that need it here in Middlebury and the surrounding area. This year’s NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive will be held on Saturday, May 14. People should have non-perishable food items by their mailboxes by 9 a.m. If there is inclement weather, put the bag in a garbage bag and place it by the mailbox. Anyone interested in volunteering to be a “Bag Buddy” or to help weigh and sort donated items that morning should contact Cheryl Hoffman at 574-536-7570.
In addition to the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the letter carriers are also appealing to neighbors for help with building renovations to Pleasant Oaks Church to house the Middlebury Food Pantry. The building currently in use is very old and becoming unsafe, and they are outgrowing it. Plans are underway to renovate Pleasant Oaks Church and move the Middlebury Food Pantry there where there is more room for storage and operations. The renovations are being done in stages, and any help is appreciated to assist them to move in sooner and to help finance the more expensive next stages. In addition to housing the food pantry in the renovated building, plans are also underway to sponsor programs there for clients of the pantry such as household budgeting classes and financial counseling, community gardening, nutritional counseling, addiction recovery programs, English as a second language, parenting classes, and others to give a hand up not just handouts! Anyone interested in donating money for the new Middlebury Food Pantry building renovation should call 574-825-5135 and leave a message or send a check made out to Middlebury Food Pantry with notation that the money is for building renovations and send to P.O. Box 508 Middlebury, IN 46540.