Starr Hunter has been leaving Publix shopping bags in mailboxes this week to remind people to leave nonperishable food in or near their mailboxes Saturday for the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive.
Hunter, a veteran letter carrier from Greenacres, is coordinating the 21st annual letter carriers food drive for a region that extends from central Palm Beach County north to Sebastian and west to Lake Okeechobee.
No donation is too large or too small, Hunter said, as long as the food is nonperishable and stored in durable containers such as cans, bags or boxes.
“People don’t realize that one little thing they put in the mailbox could feed a lot of people,” Hunter said. “One jar of peanut butter could feed 12 people.”
Large donations are encouraged, too. Last year, the letter carriers in Hunter’s branch collected nearly half a million pounds of food, said Brian DeBee, a former Royal Palm Beach letter carrier and vice president of Branch 1690 for the letter carriers association.
“They can leave a much food as they want,” DeBee said.
Food in glass containers should not be donated because the containers tend to break and create a mess.
“There has not been a year when I have not broken a jar of spaghetti sauce,” said Hunter, who has collected food for the letter carriers’ food drive every year since it began in 1993.
What is billed as the largest one-day food drive in the country has collected nearly 1.2 billion pounds of food for the needy since it began 20 years ago, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
Organizations that supply food pantries and operate hot-meal programs, including Feeding South Florida, the Palm Beach County Food Bank, the Treasure Coast Food Bank and C.R.O.S. Ministries, receive the food collected by letter carriers.
Lake Worth-based C.R.O.S. Ministries received 21,000 pounds of food from the letter carriers food drive last year for distribution to its hot-meal kitchen in Delray Beach and six food pantries in Palm Beach and Martin counties, said Gibbie Nauman, director of development.
Perry Borman, executive director of the Palm Beach County Food Bank, said volunteers with his organization will be stationed at post offices Saturday to help letter carriers unload donated food. The food will then be taken to the food bank’s Lantana warehouse for distribution to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, after-school programs and food pantries that serve the needy.
What: National Association of Letter Carriers 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
Where: In, on or near your mailbox.
Wanted: Donations of nonperishable food including canned meat, tuna fish, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, soup, cereal, powdered milk, boxed pasta and other foods in durable contatiners.
Not wanted: Out of date food, glass containers, perishable food such as fresh fruit or cans of food that are rusty or significantly dented.
More information: www.helpstampouthunger.com.