HOLT, Fla., May 4, 2019—The biggest one-day food drive of the year happens Saturday as letter carriers across the nation gather donated items to help stock food pantries.
This is the 27th year for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, held on the second Saturday each May, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Because all food donations in the Holt zip code stay in Holt, this is the most important food drive of the year for the Holt pantry, said Donna Ash, pantry director.
“We depend on this food drive to help stock shelves that go empty after the holidays,” she said. “There are other smaller drives during the year, but this one is crucial to us being able to help others in need.”
Holt’s pantry is the largest in the Holt/Milligan/Baker communities. On average, it serves 120 households a month, according to Jackie Tyler, pantry co-director.
“At that rate, shelves empty quickly,” she said.
With that many mouths to feed, keeping the pantry stocked is an ongoing challenge.
“It’s extremely challenging to keep enough food on the shelves to keep the doors open for those people looking to feed their families,” Tyler said.
Donations throughout the year from local food banks, churches and community organizations help.
The shelves get bare during the middle of the year, especially after the holidays.
The NALC food drive purposely schedules its annual event mid-year for that very reason.
“We rely completely on donations to keep the pantry operating,” said Ash. That also includes any monetary donations.
Donations needed include non-perishable food items such as cereal, pasta, spaghetti sauce, vegetables, peanut butter, jellies, beans, canned meat (tuna, chicken, turkey, etc.), oatmeal, olive oil, and other items.
Frozen foods, homemade canned goods, open containers or items that have expired will be discarded in the food sorting process. The drive is not a time to clean out the cupboard of old food past its expiration date, according to the NALC website.
Glass containers pose a safety—and messy—risk and food drive organizers request these types of items not be donated.
If a donation was not picked up on Saturday, it can either be dropped off at the Holt post office or set out again the following Monday for pickup.
According to Holt post office manager Joyce Arnett-Kennedy, Holt’s post office will accept food donations all week so those who were not able to participate may do so.
Set non-perishable food at the mailbox well before letter carriers begin their rounds in any type of bag—paper or plastic. For large donations, a carboard box is acceptable. Items will be picked up as carriers make their normal mail route runs.
All food drive donations are tax deductible because all the food collected on drive day is given directly to the Holt Community Food Pantry, and other local pantries.
To get proper credit on tax forms for food donations, itemizing taxpayers need to designate the Holt pantry as the recipient.
Food collected in other local communities such as Crestview will stay in Crestview, so tax deductions need to reflect a food pantry in that area.