The 24th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive will take place on Saturday, May 14. This massive food drive, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, takes place in 10,000 cities and provides food to communities across the country.
Last year I spoke with Willie Groshell, a letter carrier in Portland, Ore., and a Portland Jobs With Justice activist. Read on to find out what motivates him to volunteer in the food drive, the root causes of the hunger crisis in America and how you can participate.
Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been working as a letter carrier and where do you work?
I’ve been a letter carrier for 10 years, all in the greater Portland, Oregon area. I’ve spent the last four years working in NE Portland out of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office in the Piedmont Zone.
How does the food drive work? Where and when can I drop off food?
The food drive is always the second Saturday in May and it takes place all over the United States at your mailbox. It is the largest and most successful single-day food drive in the world. Over the years we have collected over a billion tons of food.
What is your role in Stamp Out Hunger? Why do you participate?
I am my station’s coordinator for the food drive. Every day, I see those in need along with those who have means to help others out by doing my rounds in the neighborhood. This time of year, the food banks are getting low on food because most giving happens during the winter holidays and then the food banks get kind of forgotten by most of the public; but the need is always there. It’s amazing to see empty food warehouses get filled up because of our efforts during the food drive. This event keeps many people going; without it I can’t imagine how many people would go hungry.
This will be the 23rd year of the NALC Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Has anything changed over the years?
The reach of the food drive expands every year. We are always trying to get new branches and parts of the country involved and join the effort to help those in need access food.
Why do you think so many people in the United States need food assistance?
We all know people that need food assistance. Most of these people are working one, two or more jobs but the wages are so low, they can’t keep up with the basic costs of living. We usually have no idea who requires help just to put a meal on the table so that their children won’t have to go to bed hungry at night. We have a systemic problem. As long as people can’t find decent, living-wage jobs, they will need assistance. As long as the massive wealth disparity continues, large portions of Americans will struggle to make ends meet. From the bottom up, we need change. The fight for a livable minimum wage seems like a great starting point. Living wages work in other countries around the world and show respect for the hard work people do every day.
How can people get involved in Stamp Out Hunger?
Leave non-perishable food out, either in or next to your mailbox, this Saturday May 14 before your mail gets dropped off. If you want to get more involved, you can go to your local post office this week and ask to talk to the food drive coordinator to volunteer your time this Saturday and help collect the tons of food that will be distributed across the USA.
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