Red-letter food donor day

During baseball season, savvy coaches know that the key to success is bringing plenty of players to the plate and filling up the sacks.

During the annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign, the tables are turned and local volunteers organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 791 — including the Volunteers of America of Western Washington, United Way of Snohomish County and the Snohomish County Labor Council — are hoping plenty of folks fill up the sacks to help bring hungry Americans to the plate.

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the successful Letter Carriers Food Drive. Since its inception in 1992, over 1.1 billion pounds of food have been collected and distributed in communities all around the country.

The statistics related to hunger are staggering: One in five kids under the age of 18 experiences hunger every day with over four million of our senior citizens and 16 percent of our population struggling to find adequate nutrition.

Summertime is particularly difficult as many school lunch programs are suspended, and most of the food collected during the heartfelt holiday season has long been distributed to needy families. This food drive is especially significant because it represents half of all of the food collected by our regional food banks each year.

Participation is simple. Watch for a yellow plastic bag to arrive in your mailbox this week. Fill the sack with non-perishable food items and leave it near your mailbox on Saturday. From there, volunteers will collect the sacks and take them to one of four regional distribution centers for processing and delivery to individual food banks.

While the term “non-perishable” is used to describe the type of food they’re seeking, it is important to note that it is essential for the shelf-life that people don’t donate items such as frozen juice, fresh produce or non-processed baked goods (think Twinkies, not artisan bread). It could be months before Saturday’s donations are sorted by volunteers.

The more perishable items are best taken directly to the food bank where they’re certain to be appreciated right away. This drive isn’t a chance to rid your cupboard of half-consumed items or products with long-expired pull dates. If you wouldn’t eat something, don’t use this drive as a chance to dump it on someone else.

In addition to filling the sacks, event organizers are looking for volunteers to help sort the donations. Individuals or groups interested in stepping to the plate to help with this event can sign up on the Volunteers of America web site at