More than a dozen Florida Keys food banks benefit from the 25th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, in which thousands of nonperishable food is put out by residents and picked up the the carriers for disbursement to the food banks.
Friday night, just place your donations next to your mailbox. Saturday on their usual routes, the U.S. Postal Service carriers will pick them up. Food banks from the Burton Memorial United Methodist Church in Tavernier to Keys Area Interdenominational Resources in Marathon to the Star of the Sea Outreach program in Key West benefit.
The top requested nonperishable foods cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meals (such as soups, chili and pasta), juice, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned protein (tuna, chicken and turkey) and beans (canned or dry). You also can donate low-sodium, low-sugar items such as beans, oatmeal and other whole grains, and canola or olive oil.
Don’t donate frozen food, homemade food or home-canned items. Don’t donate items that have expired or are in glass containers. Food that is opened, damaged, “out of code” or does not have the official ingredients included will be discarded by the food bank in the sorting process.
What if I put food out and it isn’t picked up. Well, letter carriers try to touch every mail box in the nation but some are missed. If you got missed, place your donation by your mailbox for the carrier’s Monday route instead (so maybe Sunday night).
No special bags are needed. Paper is sturdy and tends to hold more food while plastic holds up better if it gets wet (in the rain, etc.). Cloth bags or boxes are also fine.
Can I donate pet food, too? The Food Drive is primarily a people-food food drive, but if you also want to give pet food in addition to your regular donation, food banks may be able to distribute or direct it to pet shelters and organizations in the area that have a need.
Can I donate toiletries or other personal care items, too? The food drive is primarily a food drive, but if you also want to give personal care items such as diapers, laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper and household cleaning items in addition to your regular donation, food banks may be able to distribute or put them to good use with organizations that also provide help to those in need.
Donations to the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive are tax-deductible because all of the food collected is given directly to nonprofit charity food agencies in the community in which the food was collected. If you itemize your taxes and want to provide proper credit for your food donations, you will need to determine the name of the agency (food pantry or other charity) that received your food, as well as the agency’s address and tax identification number for proper reporting on your tax-filing forms. The food drive coordinator at your post office (click here for a post office locator) should be able to give you the name of the receiving agency, and that agency will likely have tax information handy.