Mail carriers, food banks call on San Diegans to help ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ with food drive this Saturday
With emergency food-assistance benefits ending, more San Diegans are going hungry, officials say. People can help by leaving non-perishable food by their mailboxes for postal workers to pick up on their rounds.
Traveling from mailbox to mailbox across San Diego, thousands of mail carriers will be collecting bags of food Saturday as part of an annual food drive to help local food banks.
Each year for the past 31 years, the National Association of Letter Carriers has collected millions of pounds of food during “Stamp Out Hunger,” the nation’s largest one-day food collection effort.
How you can help
What to donate: Pasta, cereal, oatmeal, rice, peanut butter, canola oil and canned fruit, vegetables, beans, soups, meat, fish and sauce. Low-sodium and low-sugar items are most needed.
How to donate: Put your items in a bag, and leave it next to your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up Saturday morning.
Residents across the county are being asked to leave non-perishable food donations by their mailboxes on Saturday morning. Many received brown paper bags, but those who didn’t can still fill their own bags to participate.
Later that day, approximately 2,600 letter carriers with the U.S. Postal Service will do double duty as they deliver mail while picking up food donations across the San Diego region, from Encinitas to San Ysidro to Lakeside.
“We’re out there delivering the mail on a daily basis, so we see firsthand when the families are suffering,” said Ricardo Guzman, president of the local postal worker union branch. “This is our way of showing them that we care about them.”
Those donations will then be collected by postal workers and volunteers and delivered to local food banks and pantries — like the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, which CEO Casey Castillo says serves more than 400,000 San Diegans each month.
“Most of them are considered the ‘working poor,’ so these are individuals and families that have jobs — maybe one or two jobs — and are still struggling to get by,” Castillo explained, “as well as seniors living on a fixed income.”
Castillo says they have begun serving more people lately due to the end of emergency food allotments, which more than 350,000 San Diegans have been relying on, according to Feeding San Diego’s 2021 estimates.
In March, the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program reverted to its original, pre-pandemic amount, cutting monthly grocery shopping support by about $100 for individuals and $200 for families.
This — coupled with record-high inflation levels and rising food costs — has resulted in tremendous financial strain on thousands of San Diego families in need and made food donations more critical than ever, Castillo said.
“Food insecurity is not just an issue … for those who are unhoused, but is really impacting low-income earners across our region — seniors, students, many working families — who are just trying to find ways to help make ends meet,” San Diego Councilmember Kent Lee said Wednesday at a rally held at the food bank’s Miramar warehouse. “As a community, we have an opportunity to meet those needs.”
Donations of low-sodium, low-sugar items are most needed. These include pasta, cereal, oatmeal, rice, peanut butter, canola oil and canned items, like fruits, vegetables, beans, soup, meats, fish and sauce.
Nationwide, the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive has collected more than 1.8 billion pounds of food since it began in 1993. Last year, more than 78 tons of food donations were collected in San Diego alone.