On Saturday, letter carriers in Clatsop County and across the United States will be asking their postal customers to leave donations of nonperishable food items by their mailboxes.

The food will be taken to local food banks as part of a Stamp Out Hunger food drive the National Association of Letter Carriers conducts every year on the second Saturday in May. It's the largest one-day food drive in Oregon and in the nation.

Astoria postal employee Heather Earley, president of NALC Local 295, which covers Clatsop County, said letter carriers in Astoria, Seaside and Warrenton collected 11,000 pounds of food last year. This was part of 1.3 million pounds of food NACL collected throughout Oregon and southwest Washington during the union's 2005 food drive.

"It's wonderful," Earley said. "It's so nice to see the customers come out and donate food. I think it's a great thing."

Earley said letter carriers will distribute plastic bags for donations today and Thursday as they deliver the mail, and will drop off cards with information about the food drive. Most needed foods include canned tuna, peanut butter, soups, stews, chili, canned fruits and vegetables, beans, rice and pasta.

On Saturday morning, letter carriers will collect nonperishable food donations left by mailboxes along their routes and take them to their local station. Trucks will pick up the food and deliver it to local food banks in the Oregon Food Bank Network.

"Hunger remains a huge problem in Oregon and in the nation," said Rachel Bristol, executive director of Oregon Food Bank. "Last year, one in five people in Oregon and southwest Washington ate meals from an emergency food box. The NALC Food Drive provides some of the most nutritious food we receive. This high-quality food is particularly important for the growing bodies and brains of the estimated 72,000 children each month who eat meals from emergency food boxes."


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