carne.jpg
If you're shopping to Stamp Out Hunger, hit the meat aisle.
As measured by poundage of cans collected, Seattle's annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

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Food Lifeline Looking for One Million Pounds of Food in Local Mailboxes This Weekend

carne.jpg
If you're shopping to Stamp Out Hunger, hit the meat aisle.
As measured by poundage of cans collected, Seattle's annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is among the nation's biggest. But this year, organizers want to go even bigger.

"We collected 882,000 pounds last year," Food Lifeline's development director Camilla Bishop reports. "We're going for a million this year, and we think we can do it."

Now in its second decade, the National Association of Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the nation's largest one-day food drive. Food donations left in mailboxes this Saturday will be delivered directly to local food banks. "It all stays in the area," Bishop confirms.

Food Lifeline has tapped 120 volunteers and its entire employee force of 62 people to staff receiving points at post offices, but credits mail carriers with making the drive a success.

"Those folks really work their . . . ," Bishop trails off, searching for a printable word. " . . . selves. They go out and come back with the food mid-shift, and go out again."

Many workers return to mailboxes after their shifts to sweep for tardy donations.

"They take this food drive personally," Bishop says. "I've heard them say it's because they're so personally involved and they see people suffering."

What the food banks need most, Bishop says, is protein-packed food.

"The best things are peanut butter, tuna fish, canned chili," Bishop says. "Those are the hardest to come by, so they're the most valuable."

There are a few donation restrictions. Carriers cannot accept glass or homemade items, no matter how much love is packed into a jar of pickled peaches. Bishop's advising locavores to instead visit the grocery store, make an online donation, or give $10 by texting "meals" to 52000.

"While we appreciate the thought, we don't have assurance of the environment they were produced in," Bishop says of the jams and jellies that inevitably show up in local mailboxes. "Give things you would give your own family."

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