It wasn’t just letters that letter carriers toted Saturday. They also collected more than 10,000 pounds of donated food in Yakima alone during the national Stamp Out Hunger campaign.
Organized by the U.S. Postal Service 20 years ago, the annual event is responsible for gathering anywhere from 70 million to 90 million pounds of food in one day for the needy.
The amount collected in Yakima doesn’t include what was collected in other communities from Ellensburg to Sunnyside, said food drive coordinator and letter carrier Jeff Bohlinger.
Typically, collections in those areas combine for an amount that doubles collections in Yakima, he said.
“There will be some residual over the next couple weeks that I will add to the number,” he said Saturday.
He said when the event began 20 years ago, about twice the amount was collected in the area. He cited several reasons for the decline: More nonperishable foods are now packaged in containers such as plastic sacks that weigh less than cans; the decline in the economy a few years ago, and competing food drives that have cropped up over the years.
“Ten thousand pounds to the mission is still a good thing,” he said.
All food is distributed to the needy in the area it was collected, he said.
Food collected in Yakima will go to the Union Gospel Mission. In previous years, the donations went to the Salvation Army. But this year the local board that oversees the food drive decided to reach out to other local charities, Bohlinger said.