Letter carriers from around the country, in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, will be participating in the nation's largest one-day food drive effort to "Stamp Out Hunger" on May 13. On that day, letter carriers will be collecting non-perishable food donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

For those who have a P.O. box simply bring your bag of food/toiletries to your local post office that morning. Items such as juice, peanut butter, jellies and jams, hearty soups, coffee, cereal, canned meats, vegetables and pasta will be collected in order to help families in need in our communities. This is the largest one-day food drive in the nation and the largest and most important food drive of the year for Loaves and Fishes.

"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," said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "In fact, the second Saturday in May was specifically chosen for the annual event. By that time, pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity are often bare or nearly so by late spring -- a sad reflection of the reality that widespread hunger in America is a tough problem to solve. The upcoming summer months are a particularly critical time for many children whose school lunch programs are suspended until fall; their families must find alternate sources of nutrition.


Letter carriers see these families every day as they deliver their mail."

The need is critical at Loaves and Fishes, the largest food pantry in North Central Massachusetts, not only now but throughout the entire year. With the commitment of the postmasters and letter carriers throughout our eight postal communities to implement this food drive, combined with the generosity of postal patrons throughout our area, we will continue to make a significant difference in the lives of many local residents. We hope that we can fill our shelves and have plenty of food in reserve to sustain us through the summer months with food collected from the Letter Carriers' Food Drive this year.

The pantry's client base has soared in recent years, reaching over 900 families last year. Over 37 percent of clients are under 18 or over 65, and having plentiful, nutritious food is essential for their health and well being.

You can help simply by placing your food donation in a bag and leaving it at your mailbox on the morning of May 13 before your letter carrier arrives, or by bringing it directly to your post office. Food collected will be delivered directly to the pantry that same day by volunteers. Do not include out-of-date items or those in glass containers.

For more information and to volunteer, call 978-772- 4627, email tohelp@loavesfishespantry.org, or visit loavesfishespantry.org.