MILTON — On Saturday, the letter carriers of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties will join forces to help Stamp Out Hunger in the community.

In its 26th year, the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual food drive has grown to be the largest national single-day effort that benefits millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table. In the last 25 years, communities across the nation have donated nearly 1.6 billion pounds of food.

Last year’s food drive netted 75 million pounds of food to help feed those in need. Locally, organizations received nearly 85,000 pounds of food from the drive.

"Stamp Out Hunger is the most important food drive for many food pantries in the area," Manna Food Pantries Executive Director DeDe Flounlacker said. "The food collected by the letter carriers is critical to our ability to feed our neighbors in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The 2017 event was down considerably by about 50 percent, so we’re looking forward to having an outstanding turnout this year to restock shelves and ensure the immediate needs of the hungry can be met in the coming months." 

A donation of just one dozen cans provides three days’ worth of food, or nine meals for neighbors in need. Residents are encouraged to leave a bag of non-perishable food items, such as canned meats (chicken, tuna), canned fruit in 100 percent juice, dry breakfast items (oatmeal, grits, whole grain cereal), canned vegetables, peanut butter, rice, and dry beans next to their mailbox prior to regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 12. 

"We rely on this food drive to keep our shelves fully stocked to help needy families, children, seniors and the homeless in Gulf Breeze and Navarre," ACTS Ministry of Holley Assembly of God Pastor Doug Barber said. "Without the help from the NALC and the community during the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, ACTS Ministry would almost be non-existent." 

Escambia and Santa Rosa letter carriers will collect food donations for local food banks including Manna Food Pantries, Warrington Emergency Aid Center, Feeding the Gulf Coast in Pace and Milton, ACTS Ministry of Holley Assembly of God in Gulf Breeze, and We Care Ministries of Navarre United Methodist Church. 

"We are so thankful to the NALC and our community for their support in this food drive. This food will greatly help our one in six neighbors struggling with hunger," Feeding the Gulf Coast President and CEO Cathy Pope said. 

Mail carriers will deliver a limited number of bags prior to the food drive. Residents who do not receive a bag may use any grocery bag on hand to fill with donation items.

Visit www.helpstampouthunger.com or www.facebook.com/StampOutHunger for more information. Follow the drive at www.twitter.com/StampOutHunger.

Several partners are assisting the NALC in the food drive: the United States Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Valpak, United Way of Escambia County, Feeding the Gulf Coast, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation and Valassis.