Stamp Out Hunger is the country’s largest single-day food drive, with last year’s donations totaling 75 million pounds. The drive allows residents to leave their donation of non-perishable goods in paper bags next to their mailbox before the delivery of the mail that day.
Let’s Stamp Out Hunger Las Cruces!
Stamp Out Hunger is back in Las Cruces, coordinated by the local members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the local United Way, and emergency food programs like Casa de Peregrinos. It’s in its 26th year and on Saturday, May 12, the food drive aims to fill up local pantries.
The drive allows residents to leave their donation of non-perishable goods in paper bags next to their mailbox before the delivery of the mail that day.
James Espana, a Las Cruces letter carrier and member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, has been coordinating Stamp Out Hunger along with the United Way for about four years. The 280,000-member NALC represents letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service, along with retired letter carriers.
James says that everything is coordinated at the main docks of the post office in downtown Las Cruces, alongside the regular mail that also keeps flowing that day. The key to success is ensuring the distribution of what is gathered from residents throughout the city ends up with the food pantries that very night, so those with the most need can receive aid as fast as possible.
James says that eight to 10 different local pantries benefit, some at churches and senior centers, along with the better known Roadrunner Food Bank and Casa de Peregrinos (CdP), the emergency food program.
Lorenzo Alba, executive director of CdP, said that this is the perfect timing for families in Doña Ana county. Supplies from the winter holidays are dwindling and school meal programs will ending soon. “Last year the local drive received close to 40,000 pounds,” Lorenzo says. “It helps us for six to seven weeks.”
James remembers the need that his family had when his dad was sick with cancer. During Christmas time, his family received food from a pantry and he recalls how happy he was to be able to simply have some Christmas cookies. “We as carriers have good jobs that support our families and we like to give back,” he notes.
While James admits that Saturdays are a larger effort for the mail carrier, other carriers and volunteers help those in route to make sure that trucks don’t get overloaded. Plus, the United Way has a cookoff breakfast to ensure a good start to the busy day and CdP has a cookout in the evening when carriers drop off.
Canned foods are extremely necessary because, surprisingly, cans are given less often than they have been in the past. “A lot of pantries have gone to fresh food, so this supplements what we can do for people in different situations,” Lorenzo says. Pop top cans are encouraged for those who may not have a can opener. The need varies, but the demand is great.
“On a regular day at the Community of Hope, we see 175 to 180 families. In a year, 23,000 unique people, or roughly 10 percent of the county,” Lorenzo adds. “We have a culture here that if they have to courage to come here, we don’t turn people down.”
Overall, the top requested non-perishable food items are:
Pasta Sauce or Spaghetti Sauce
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Canned Meals (such as soups, chili and pasta)
Macaroni & Cheese
Canned Protein (tuna, chicken and turkey)
Beans (canned or dry)
Healthy, low-sodium, low-sugar items such as oatmeal and other whole grains, and canola or olive oil are also requested.
Please don’t donate frozen food, homemade food, or home-canned items. Please do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers. Food that is opened, damaged, out of code or does not have the official ingredients included will be discarded by the food bank in the sorting process.