Letter carriers' food drive tops one million pounds of food

Letter carrier Veronica Feneis arrived at the Cub Foods parking lot about 4:45 p.m. Saturday, May 10, her Postal Service truck full of blue plastic bags stuffed with food donated by people along her carrier route. She reported: “Lots of people gave this year — lots!”

Waiting volunteers unloaded her vehicle and moved the donated food into a larger truck, which soon would deliver the food to a warehouse operated by Second Harvest Heartland. From there, the food will be distributed to local emergency foodshelves.

The scene was repeated across the Twin Cities metro area and across the nation, all part of the 22nd annual National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. The massive operation is the nation’s largest one-day food drive.

In the Twin Cities, the food drive yielded 1,051,444 pounds of food, reported Mike Zagaros, president of NALC Branch 9. “People understand the need,” he said.

In south Minneapolis, retired Minneapolis letter carrier John O’Laughlin and a friend towed a 12-foot Crestliner fishing boat behind their vehicle and filled it with the blue plastic bags of food they found waiting on people’s doorsteps. “I didn’t want to go fishing because it was opening day,” said O’Laughlin, Oakdale. “The boat launches would be all plugged up anyway. I’m retired. I can go anytime.”

“This is a generous zone, 55406,” said Kieran Hughes, St. Paul, 37-year NALC member and steward at the Minnehaha postal station in south Minneapolis. “What I see is fewer people donating but those who do give more and better quality food.”

In south Minneapolis, volunteers took some of the burden off of letter carriers by driving the streets and picking up waiting food or by meeting letter carriers’ whose trucks were full.

“My friend is a retired postal guy and I have a truck, so guess what I’m doing today,” joked Michael Hollmen, south Minneapolis (above).

Retired letter carriers and volunteers from WCCO radio staffed the NALC food drop-off site at the East Lake Street Cub Foods.

Volunteers from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 helped unload her truck. “We’ve been here every year for the past five years,” said Dorothy Maki, ATU Local 1005 vice president. This year, she said, “it’s been going well.”

Left to right: Stan Green, Metro Transit mechanic; Tommy Bellfield, Local 1005 financial secretary-treasurer; Kari Sachs, Metro Transit bus driver; Dorothy Maki, Local 1005 vice president; Dan Abramowicz, Local 1005 recording secretary.

At the Blaine North Cub Foods, volunteers from the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation helped unload food brought there by letter carriers.

They worked with volunteers from Hedberg Moving, one of the Minnesota Transport Services Association member firms which provided trucks for the NALC food drive at selected Cub Foods locations.

“It was really fun,” said Danielle Hedberg, who was joined by several family members. “We were glad to be part of it and glad for the support of the Blaine and Ham Lake Community.”

Volunteers from Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, AFSCME Local 34 and the American Postal Workers Union also staffed NALC drop-off sites at area Cub Foods stores.

People also could make a monetary donation to Second Harvest Heartland, whether by check or cash or online (www.2harvest.org). TCF pledged to match up to $25,000 of the online donations, which totaled $33,982 as of May 15.

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Steve Share's picture
Steve Share

Steve Share is the editor of the Minneapolis Labor Review.