A national organization is set to begin an initiative that makes solving hunger only a mail box away. On May 13, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will hold their annual nationwide food drive.

D.C. area postal workers, all volunteers, gather at the Capitol Branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers on May 2 to kick off the 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. (Courtesy Photo)

The 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive reaches 10,000 cities and towns across the United States, according to NALC’s website. On the second Saturday of May, letter carriers pick up donated non-perishable goods that are left by residents’ mailboxes to later drop off at local food banks and distributors. Partners include the United States Postal Service, AFL-CIO, United Way, AARP Foundation, Valpak, Local Food Partners, and Valassis.

“The post office is one of the sponsors. Of course we cannot do this without the Post Office’s permission and the reason why is because everything that the letter carriers are doing, we’re doing it on the clock. So, that’s where the post office comes in at. They’re allowing us to do this while we’re actually on the clock. As we’re working delivering to the community, we’re actually picking up food as we go,” Tim Hill, a health benefit representative for the Capitol Branch of NALC and lead hunger drive coordinator, told the AFRO.

Local postal routes are set to expand from the District to the Waldorf, Md. area , according to Hill. The drive began in 1992, where it served about 10,000 residents across the nation. “I just take pleasure in being able to help someone that may be in need because one day it may be me,” Hill said. He has been a letter carrier for 25 years.

The national food drive has collected about 1.5 billion pounds of food over the last 24 years, according to a news release. D.C. postal volunteers collected more than 70,000 pounds of non-perishable food items in 2016.

NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive and food banks come to the aid of many single parents who need additional help to feed their families, elderly citizens on a fixed income and other pockets of people in need, Hill said.

In 2016, the organization broke a world record by collecting 80.1 million pounds of food in one day, for citizens in need.

The “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive” illustrates a community truly taking care of its own, Pam Donato, director of Community Services for the NALC, told the AFRO. The collected food stays in the neighborhood that it is collected from. “I tease that when you come to the craft of being a letter carrier, you could be an introvert, you could be aloof, you could be a lot of different things but after a couple of months you’re softened up and made aware of the world around you because you’re literally delivering eviction notices, you’re delivering loan foreclosures, or property, you know it’s just horrible,” Donato said.

According to Donato, the D.C. Capital Area Food Bank would not be able to collect 200,000-500,000 pounds of food per year without the assistance of the postal service.