Largest food drive in the world changes tactics amid pandemic

Eric Rigor, a volunteer, wheels a box full of food donations into the SCV Food Pantry during the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal
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As summer approaches, the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry has found its shelves looking emptier than usual at this time of year.

Not only has the local need for food skyrocketed as SCV residents remain furloughed, but the largest food drive in the world wasn’t able to make its annual delivery amid the pandemic.

Each year for the past 27 years, the National Association of Letter Carriers has collected more than 70 million pounds of food in its annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, held in May.

The drive typically holds the food pantry over through the hard summer months, when school lunch programs are unavailable, and until holiday donations resume in the winter.

Now more than ever, as the shutdown has worsened food insecurity, letter carriers were determined to fill the need, so while not able to do their typical food drive, they developed a new plan.

Using their network of food coordinators across the country, the NALC compiled a list of nearly 2,000 food banks in need of assistance across the country in every ZIP code, including the SCV Food Pantry. 

Now, those who would typically donate food can still help by simply going online and making a monetary donation instead to a food bank of their choice via the NALC’s list.

“As letter carriers in every neighborhood in the country six and seven days a week, we see the need, and we cannot wait while food banks struggle, demand grows and people remain hungry,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said in a prepared statement. “Once it is safe, we will return to the traditional food drive.”

Meanwhile, NALC officials believe there’s a silver lining to this approach, as rather than a one-day event, efforts can now continue as needed, and donations can help food banks purchase more food than a resident could buy and donate with the same resources.

Every dollar raised goes directly to purchasing food for the hungry, while the food procured will stay in the community to help residents in need, according to NALC officials.

For more information on the 2020 Stamp Out Hunger Donor Drive, visit nalc.org/food.

The SCV Food Pantry is located at 24133 Railroad Ave. in Newhall. Donations, such as canned soups, meats, fruits, dry beans, rice and peanut butter, are still needed.

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