Some heavy lifting for Oregon letter carriers
"Stamp Out Hunger" Goal is 1.5 Million Pounds of Food
By Chris Thomas
Donating food to a hungry family in Oregon this Saturday will be as easy as putting a bag of nonperishable food on your front porch near the mailbox.
The goal for this year's annual "Stamp Out Hunger" drive in Oregon - and Clark County, Wash., too - is 1.5 million pounds.
The largest annual canned-food drive in the nation also is one of the busiest days of the year for letter carriers in Oregon, who pick up all that food as they deliver the mail on their routes. About 4,000 of them will be assisted by a small army of volunteers who will collect and sort the food as it's brought back to local post offices.
Susannah Morgan, chief executive of the Oregon Food Bank, said it keeps local food banks stocked through the summer - and is just as important for the postal workers.
"I have heard from many letter carriers through the years that this is an extremely meaningful day for them," she said, "a way that connects their day-to-day work in the community, as a chance to be able to return some benefits to folks they see that are struggling on their routes."
The need still is high statewide for emergency food boxes, Morgan said. This year's goal is up from 1.3 million pounds last year. Letter carriers are delivering reminder postcards or bags for the food this week.
The U.S. Postal Service has had its share of hard times lately, with plans still being debated to close some rural post offices and distribution centers and end Saturday mail delivery. However, Jerry Fitzsimmons, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers local (Branch 82) in Portland, said the food drive won't be affected and for now, it's business as usual for the Postal Service.
"The 'service' part of it needs to expand, not be cut back," he said. "Service companies don't do well when they cut service. They do better when they add service. We're working hard to make sure that we preserve Saturday delivery. On top of that, that means we preserve the food drive on Saturday as well."
Those who miss Saturday's food pickup in their neighborhoods can drop off food donations at any post office by May 15.
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