PARKERSBURG - Thousands of pounds of donated food were distributed Saturday during the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Area letter carriers picked up non-perishable food items donated by residents on their routes, in addition to delivering mail, and brought them to the postal processing area at the U.S. Federal Building in downtown Parkersburg for distribution to area food banks and pantries.
Chris Shingleton, treasurer of NALC Local 481, said about an hour before the last food was delivered on Saturday that the carriers had collected 10,000 pounds in the Parkersburg area.
Ralph Conner pushes a cart of food collected during the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive into position to be picked up Saturday at the U.S. Postal Service Center in Parkersburg. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Connie Kirby, left, and Amara Alfstad, right, sort food brought in by letter carriers during the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
"This is the 21st year for Stamp Out Hunger and our 20th year participating," he said. "We have volunteers from food pantries, families and retirees working here today."
Shingleton said the food was distributed to various food pantries such as Old Man Rivers, area church food pantries and other charitable organizations. The recipients were given times to pick up their food at the federal building to cut down congestion in the post office parking lot and nearby streets and to allow the mail to be delivered on time.
"That way we don't have a crowd sitting here and having to wait and seven letter carriers waiting to get in," he said. "We are still on a time schedule, the post office does not give us overtime to do this."
Shingleton said the drive takes place once a year, on the second Saturday in May.
"We're coming out of winter and many food pantries are near empty," he said. "There is nothing on the horizon for a holiday and in the summer many people are busy with everything else and not thinking about other needs."
Shingleton said carriers tell church food pantries about the food drive so they can be part of it.
"Some of them did not know they had to contact the post office or the carriers to be part of this," he said.
Over the past two decades Shingleton said they have a system worked out for the sorting and distribution, but sometimes there are glitches, However, there were none reported this year.
The NALC's effort is the nation's largest one-day food collection drive. Nationally, thousands of carriers across the nation collected more than 70 million pounds of food in 2012. Over the last 20 years, more than a billion pounds of food were collected.