The National Letter Carrier Food Drive is the largest single-day food drive in the U.S., and it’s taking place on doorsteps across the country this Saturday, May 12.
This marks the food drive’s 20th anniversary of helping millions of American families in need with the help of thousands of local letter carriers.
The National Association of Letter Carrier’s Stamp Out Hunger President, Fredrick Rolando, says the need in 2012 is particularly staggering.
“Sixteen percent of all Americans are at risk of hunger – uncertain where their next meal may be coming from. That includes 1 in 5 children under the age of 18, plus 4 million seniors who are forced everyday to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food,” he said.
Rolando reported that last year, despite many obstacles, letter carriers were able to collect more than 70 million pounds of food, raising the total amount of donations picked up over the history of the food drive to more than 1.1 billion pounds.
“With the help from our brothers and sisters in the rural craft, alongside other postal employees and volunteers” he says, “letter carriers will do what we can again this year to help all Americans.”
It’s important to remember that many of the individuals receiving donations are just like you and me, but just need a little help to get buy. There are likely even families in your own neighborhood that are in great need of simple necessities like food. And since some of them don’t receive food from many other sources, it’s important to consider the nutritional value of the items you donate.
DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, recommends aiming for nutritious foods that do not spoil; canned and dried food being the best choices.
Some high protein foods to consider might be canned tuna, canned salmon, canned crab meat, sardines, canned chicken, canned beans, canned baked beans, dried beans, lentils, peanut butter, other nut butters, and nuts.
Non-perishable grain foods might include cooked cereal like oatmeal and cream of wheat, healthy ready-to-eat cereals like Cheerios, mini-shredded wheats, Wheaties, granola, Kix, puffed wheat; and pasta, rice, and crackers in a tin.
Fruits and vegetables are an especially important food group. For this category, Mary recommends considering items like canned tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, vegetable juice, canned vegetables, canned fruit in its own juice, applesauce, canned 100% fruit juice, dried fruit like raisins and craisins, and shelf-stable fruit cups.
Dairy products are also good to consider, such as evaporated skim milk, boxed shelf-stable milk (Parmalat), dried milk, and canned Parmesan cheese. And other miscellaneous items might include canned chicken, beef and vegetable broth, soups, stews, chili, tea, coffee, tea bags, bread crumbs, olive oil, olives, vegetable oil, baby food, and shelf stable pudding.
Whatever you’re able to donate this year, don’t miss out on this great opportunity to help those around you in need. And if you can, keep healthier items in mind such as like ones listed above to ensure you’re helping others toward their health goals as well.