Volunteering at a massive one-day food drive like Stamp Out Hunger is a sure-fire way to discover food items you may not have known existed!
Sure, we get lots and lots of pantry staples like canned veggies, macaroni and cheese, and soup. And we’re certainly grateful for every single item that is donated by our generous community.
But it’s the unusual items that delight and entertain our volunteers as they sort the food at each post office.
At the South County Post Office, volunteers were touched by the St. Louis County resident who donated a jar of spaghetti sauce neatly taped to a coordinating box of pasta.
In Kirkwood, volunteers at the post office were charmed by handwritten thank yous to letter carriers stapled to the bags of food.
Stamp Out Hunger is an annual event that takes place across the nation on the second Saturday in May.
Here in St. Louis, this drive mobilizes not just letter carriers and post office staff, but also St. Louis Area Foodbank employees, pantry staff, community volunteers, high school students and local businesses.
Weeks before the drive, volunteers at the Foodbank neatly folded the plastic bags and attached them to the Stamp Out Hunger reminder cards. From there, we relied on the hard work of letter carriers to deliver them.
With all of our collective efforts, we collected 232,842 pounds of food last Saturday, and there’s still more food rolling in!
With the support of the generous residents of St. Louis city and county, the Foodbank has received 10,000 more pounds than we did from the 2012 drive!
Thanks to all who helped make this drive a success!
Volunteers at the Clayton post office sort donated items collected during the Stamp Out Hunger food drive / Photo by Ryan Farmer
If you walked through the Volunteer Center at the St. Louis Area Foodbank today, you’d see boxes flying through the air and cans sliding across metal tables.
Volunteers are busily sorting every type of food imaginable, from macaroni and cheese to grape juice.
It’s a flurry of activity.
This buzz of excitement is the midway stage for the food collected last Saturday, May 12, 2012 during the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
Soon, the very food being sorted at the Foodbank today will be put into the hands of families in need, right here in the bi-state region.
These families rely on the food collected at major food drives like Stamp Out Hunger, also known as the Letter Carrier food drive.
Stamp Out Hunger, now in its’ 20th year, required a massive coordination of volunteers, staff and donors. It’s the collaboration of hundreds of individuals that make these major food drives a success, year after year.
And in the St. Louis region, we couldn’t be more proud of the generous and enthusiastic people who came together to collect, sort and deliver the food.
So far, the results are astounding – our preliminary results show 196,175 pounds of food collected in St. Louis city and county alone!
At many of the St. Louis Area Foodbank’s hub sites – post offices where Foodbank staff and volunteers are stationed to sort food as it comes in – we saw some great moments of generosity.
At the Affton Post Office, two volunteers drove all the way from Collinsville, Ill. These amazing volunteers served as route workers, meaning they used their own cars to follow the letter carriers along their routes in Affton to help pick up food.
“I felt that was going above and beyond,” says Casey Milton, product donations coordinator for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “They said, ‘we wanted to do something.’ Since there was nothing closer to home they chose Affton.”
At the South County Post Office, several letter carriers returned from their routes and jumped in to volunteer.
“Even though they put in extra time and effort collecting and loading heavy bags of canned goods along their routes, they still volunteered their time afterwards to helping us sort the food,” says Bethany Prange, Foodbank communications coordinator. “That showed commitment to the cause.”
Staff and volunteers from Foodbank partner agencies, which include food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens throughout the bi-state region, also volunteered their Saturday to sorting hundreds of cans and boxes of food!
Without the hard work of each individual who contributed to the effort, Stamp Out Hunger would not be the successful food drive it remains year after year.
Even more, this food drive could not exist without the generosity of residents who faithfully put out their donations for the letter carriers to collect.
Foodbank employee Kate Hartman carries a bin of food brought back to the post office by route volunteers / Photo by Bethany Prange
Calling all volunteers! Calling all volunteers! We need your help!
Stamp Out Hunger, the annual National Letter Carrier’s Food Drive, is Saturday, May 12, 2012, and we still need volunteers!
This is no ordinary volunteer gig! For one day, you will be helping to feed the thousands of individuals struggling with food insecurity in the bi-state region. Plus, you will be performing a great service for your local U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.
Many people don’t realize that during Stamp Out Hunger, it is solely up to the letter carriers to pick up the donated foods left on porches and next to mail boxes across the country. As you can imagine, this amounts to thousands upon thousands of pounds of food that need to be lifted and carried to mail trucks up and down the streets of our cities and towns.
Our letter carriers generously donate their time and energy to picking up the donated food, but would certainly appreciate any extra “hands for helping.” In the immediate St. Louis metro region alone, the St. Louis Area Foodbank has several locations where you can donate a few hours of your time to this project.
Now, we know this work sounds hard. It is. But it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding – you get to see tangible results of your work. You’ll be picking up and sorting food donated by your fellow St. Louisans and helping it get to the Foodbank, where it will go straight to those who need it most.
As an added bonus, you’ll receive a free t-shirt and lunch!
On May 12, we have openings for both route and dock workers.
Route volunteers duties:
• Follow the mail carrier to the beginning of their mail route and park your vehicle
• Walk up and down the designated streets of the mail route, collecting the bags of food
• Carry the bags of donated food back to the carrier’s mail truck
• Walk neighborhood streets, looking for signs of donated food on porches, in paper or plastic bags and/or hanging from their mailboxes.
The route volunteers are essential in lighting the load on our letter carriers.
“By having a volunteer pick up donated food from customers takes a huge weight off our letter carriers shoulders and is deeply appreciated,” says Bob Rapisardo, Vice President/Financial Secretary of the National Association of Letter Carriers – Branch 343.
In addition to the route volunteers, we also need dock workers. At each designated Post Office location, the letter carriers rely on these volunteers to quickly unload and sort the food.
Dock worker duties:
• Choose a Post Office location and meet there at the designated time
• Unload bags of food being dropped off at the loading docks by the Letter Carriers
• Sort and load the food into large cardboard boxes that will then be transported by Foodbank drivers
Even if you are unable to volunteer on May 12, you can still help by placing a bag of non-perishable food items around your mail box. Once the food is picked up from the houses it is taken back to a nearby postal site, sorted and loaded on to a Foodbank vehicle.
The food will be distributed to our partner agencies – food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters – on Monday morning! The community is one of the major factors in making this food drive a success. So please get involved and give back to your neighbors in need!
Casey Milton is the food donations coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank