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‘Stamp out Hunger’ food drive celebrates 27 years of supplying food banks

Greater Chicago Food Depository, 4100 W Ann Lurie Place. | Provided by GCFD

About 40 years ago, letter carriers at the Henry McGee Post Office near 47th and Cottage Grove in Bronzeville decided to take up a collection to assist a local food pantry.

They saw a line that extended around the corner during the holidays, and they wanted to make a difference.

Soon, our Local Union, Branch #11 of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), got involved by making an annual donation. This evolved into a collection by city letter carriers in every local post office for food pantries across Chicago.

Thus began our annual food drive in Chicago.

The humanitarian efforts of Chicago letter carriers were recognized by our National Union and in 1992 the NALC began a national food drive.

Each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers during the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

This year, on Saturday, May 11, we will mark the 27th anniversary of the national food drive. The donations we collect will go to over 50 food pantries in the Chicagoland area, so that it can get to the people who need our help.

Last year, we collected 71.6 million pounds of food nationally.

Over the course of its 26-year history, the national drive has collected 1.67 billion pounds of food, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need for food donations is great.

Almost 50 million Americans — 1 in 6 — are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Among them are millions of children, senior citizens and military veterans. Our food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries typically receive the bulk of their donations during the winter holiday season.

By spring, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school meal programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in the Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is easy. Either bring your non-perishable food donation to any local post office between May 6 and May 10, or just leave a donation in a bag by your mailbox on Saturday, May 11, before mail delivery and your letter carrier will do the rest.

Any monetary donation will provide a 10-pound food “credit” for each dollar by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Chicago’s letter carriers are proud to lead in the fight to end hunger in our communities.

Please join us as we celebrate our 27th anniversary year in America’s great day of giving and together we can Stamp out Hunger!

Chicago Sun-Times is a media sponsor of this event.

Mack I. Julion, President, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11 (Chicago)

SEND LETTERS TO letters@suntimes.com: Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Federal employees deserve praise

Federal employees serve and protect us every day at every level across the country and in our community. At no time was this more evident than during the 35-day partial government shutdown earlier this year.

From ensuring safe air travel, to regulating new medicines, to maintaining a safe food supply, to processing Social Security checks — civil servants are everywhere, yet invisibly so.

And, contrary to popular belief, 85 percent of the federal workforce is located outside of Washington, D.C.

When natural disasters strike, they provide relief and help us rebuild. When mass shootings take place, they enter harm’s way and care for the wounded. And, when once-eradicated viruses reappear, they investigate public health crises.

Whether they are in the public eye or active behind the scenes, civil servants take pride in working for something bigger than themselves.

At a time when the image of civil servants is unfairly tainted, and the idea of a career in public service is not on the minds of young professionals, it’s imperative that we recognize public servants and the noble profession of civil service.

As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week, let’s thank a federal employee for keeping our country running safely, efficiently and for the good of the American people.

Frank Frieri, LaGrange Highlands