By Chris Bavender
After a two-year hiatus, the USPS National Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive will take place May 14. Residents are encouraged to put nonperishable donations in a bag by their mailbox to be delivered to local food banks.
One of those food banks is Open Doors Food Pantry of Washington Township in Westfield. Kurt Wanninger is helping coordinate with the local National Association of Letter Carriers Union representative and pantry volunteers to make the day a success.
“Sonya Carr is co-chair with me, and she organizes getting all the bags folded, the postcards stapled to the bags and sorted out by the postal routes. Carrie Larrison helps with Sign-up Genius for volunteers,” Wanninger said. “It takes about 100 Open Doors volunteers for just this one-day event and over 100 letter carriers to assist picking up the food and delivering it back to the post office where we load it onto trucks for delivery to Open Doors. It will take over a month to sort through food and date it by year.”
Larrison, director of special projects for Open Doors, said the Stamp Out Hunger drive is important to continue to help those in the community experiencing food insecurity.
“When we are short on items, we do have to then go out and purchase those items ourselves using monetary donations that we have received,” Larrison said. “The postal service did give us a monetary donation each of the years the food drive wasn’t held during COVID-19, which were huge blessings. However, I think most people who donate to a food pantry, or any other local nonprofit, feel happy about being able to help others in our community. To me, helping our neighbors is what makes our community special and stronger.”
The NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is one of the largest food drives annually for the Open Doors Food Pantry, according to Wanninger.
“The past two years have been challenging without this food drive,” he said. “The most important thing for donors is that Open Doors needs food that is in date or dated for the future. Also, for this food drive, it is best to donate canned food, as glass can break, and food packaged in cardboard or loose wrap can get damaged by the weight of other food during transportation.”
Canned meals like ravioli or spaghetti, individual macaroni and cheese, 100 percent juice boxes and granola bars are the biggest needs.
A list of Open Doors most needed items can be found on its website at opendoorswestfield.org/programs/pantry-food-shortages/.