Michael Guerra, the San Antonio Food Bank‘s chief development officer was on his front porch in Government Hill last week when the neighborhood letter carriers walked up to his door to deliver his daily dose of catalogs, bills, and bank statements. Guerra thanked him ahead of time for the extra lifting they’ll be doing May 9, the day of the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive when thousands of San Antonio residents will leave non-perishable goods next to their mailbox to be picked up and taken to the Food Bank.
The carrier responded to Guerra’s gesture with hesitance, knowing he worked with the San Antonio Food Bank, and went on to tell him that as he picked up bags of canned goods last year, two women on two different streets in Government Hill stopped him to ask for the bags of food he was carrying. He couldn’t look the women in the eyes and tell them “no” so he ended up handing over the food to each woman.
Guerra said he wasn’t upset – he was happy to hear the food got to good hands.
For the 23rd year in a row, letter carriers will pick up these food items to feed the more than 300,000 people in the greater San Antonio area who are food insecure. Guerra said these people live in neighborhoods all over the city, including Alamo Heights where 25% of the kids are on free/reduced lunch.
“They’re in all neighborhoods, in all zip codes,” he said. “They are everywhere, of every color, age, ethnicity. They’re our neighbors.”
An estimated 49 million Americans struggle with hunger, and within the 16 counties the San Antonio Food Bank serves, 16.3% of the total population and 28.8% of children struggle with hunger. This food drive provides supply for the United State’s Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which caters to the more than 60% of children in the area who participate in the free/reduced lunch program that provides many children their only meals during the school year. The program provides free meals from June 9 – August 22 for children up to 18 year old.
United States Postal Service Postmaster Lisse Fish and Richard Gould, vice president of San Antonio’s National Association of Letter Carriers, met at the Food Bank on Thursday to host a kickoff for the food drive, an effort that brought in 750,000 pounds of food last year. This year, the goal has been set for 1 million pounds.
Since 1992, customers from 10,000 cities and towns across America have contributed more than 1 billion pounds of food to the drive since its national start. All of the locally-collected food benefits the San Antonio Food Bank which helps feed more than 58,000 individuals every week.
“(The food drive) is an effort to raise national awareness about the real ongoing problem of hunger in every community,” Fish said, “and it’s a sincere attempt to use our unique delivery network where letter carriers touch every single mailbox in America while simultaneously delivering the mail and picking up non-perishable food donations.”
Gould said he was out on the streets in San Antonio last year picking up food on the day of the drive.
“And I can say from seeing it myself that our trucks, a lot of times, look like low-riders because they’re just packed with food. And that’s because of our community doing everything they can to make that happen,” he said. “I have no doubt we can meet our goal of one million pounds this year.”
*Featured/top image: USPS employees have a photo shoot during the “Stamp Out Hunger” kickoff event at the San Antonio Food Bank. Photo by Joan Vinson.