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The second Saturday of May is like Christmas for Sam Pearce, executive director of The Helping Center of Marble Falls. Over the past three decades, the National Association of Letter Carriers holds its annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on that day.

On Saturday, May 14, Highland Lakes carriers will drop off mail and pick up donated non-perishable food left by residents at their mailboxes. Those donations will be brought to The Helping Center to disburse to clients and other local food pantries.

Stamp Out Hunger is a big contributor to food pantries across the country. Since starting in 1983, the drive has collected more than 1.8 billion pounds of food.

“We usually get between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds of food from it,” Pearce said. “We’re looking forward to it, and we’re so grateful to the postal carriers for doing it. They’re the ones who put in the extra time and work to collect all the food and get it to us.”

While people often think of donating to pantries at the holidays, hunger and food insecurity happen year-round. And with school ending for the summer, students in need don’t have regular access to reduced-cost and free breakfasts and lunches on campus, making food pantries even more vital.

So Stamp Out Hunger comes at a good time.

Food drive officials ask that people place donated items in sturdy bags, if possible, by their mailboxes to make it easier for postal workers to collect. Local carriers then will drop off the food at The Helping Center.

“We’ll then distribute it to the other food pantries (in the Highland Lakes), so everyone benefits from the postal carriers’ work,” Pearce said.

The 2022 event marks the return of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it should have a bigger impact as the number of people turning to community food pantries has increased.

The NALC estimates that more than 200,000 letter carriers across the United States will lend a hand in collecting food. 

“Letter carriers are part of every neighborhood in the nation,” NALC President Frederic Rolando said in a media release. “And we see the growing need for food assistance in our communities. On Saturday, May 14, NALC invites everyone to participate in the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Together, we can help stamp out hunger in America.”

Pearce praised local postal carriers for their efforts.

“This is what our postal carriers do for our community,” he said. “They don’t have to do this, and it means they have to put in more hours and more work, but they are out there collecting the food and bringing it to us all for the community.”

Pearce will join KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune’s Mac McClennahan at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, May 12, on “Mac in the Mornings” to talk about the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. 

To learn more about hunger, food insecurity, and food pantries in the Highland Lakes, visit the Burnet County Hunger Alliance website. The Helping Center of Marble Falls welcomes food and monetary donations all year long. It is located at 1016 Broadway in Marble Falls.

daniel@thepicayune.com