WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Leave non-perishable food by your mailbox Saturday and your mail carrier will collect it and donate it to a local food pantry as part of the 21st annual National Food Drive.
The event sprang out of local food drives organized about 30 years ago by postal workers in Arizona and California who recognized a need among some of those on their route. The mail carriers collected the food and transported it to a local food pantry or shelter. A few years later, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the union for postal workers, proposed the idea and it took off in 1992.
Since then, the National Food Drive has collected and distributed more than 1.2 billion pounds of food, including 70 million in 2012, Pam Donato, director of community services for NALC, said.
The Westchester NALC branch transports a majority of collected items to the United Methodist Church in White Plains. Food pantries and shelters from around the county then come to pick it up from there, Rich Montesarchio, president of the Westchester branch of the NALC, said.
The NALC’s National Food Drive now has celebrity sponsors, including Nick Cannon. This, Donato said, has helped get the word out, along with public service announcements and other outreach tools.
“Since food pantries and other service organizations are pretty much tapped out by the time our drive rolls around this infusion of food comes at just the right time,” NALC President Fredric Rolando wrote on the NALC website. Letter carrier, family members and volunteers from more than 1,400 NALC branches in nearly every city and state will pitch in to collect, sort and distribute donations of cans, boxes and jars of non-perishable food items.
If rain is in the forecast Saturday, Donato recommends putting a plastic bag around your donation.
“It’s very local,” Donato said. “That’s the beautiful thing about it, it’s very organic.”
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