Since 1995, the Turlock Post Office has participated in the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive, collecting donations in an effort to “stamp out hunger” in the community.
“I deliver some routes on the West side and I see the poverty,” said Turlock mail carrier Rosalinda Rojas. “I see people struggle. It’s a little thing that we can do that will help out and mean a lot for the people that are going hungry.”
The drive is known as the largest one-day food drive in the U.S., providing families with over one billion pounds of food since its start. Turlock residents who want to give to those in need can leave a sturdy bag filled with non-perishable food by their mailboxes on Saturday, where a letter carrier will pick it up and in turn distribute it to local charities. This year, the Turlock Post Office will be sending the community’s donations to the United Samaritans Foundation.
“All of the food stays here in Turlock,” said Rojas.
Rojas previously worked for a Post Office in the Bay Area who participated in the annual food drive. When she came to work in Turlock and saw that the office did not hold a drive, she decided to get it started in the city right then and there. Since then, the Turlock Post Office has seen a substantial amount of donations annually.
Thanks to 2015’s event, mail carriers nationwide collected over 71 million pounds of food. Turlock collected 5,800 of those pounds, with Rojas collecting 950 pounds of donations on her mail route alone.
“We don’t mind carrying the extra food,” said Rojas, who explained that each mail carrier is responsible for carrying donations from their route back to the mail truck. “It’s rewarding knowing that even though we have to carry a bit more, someone is going to be fed.”
Foods that Rojas recommends for donation include all canned food, bags of rice and beans and anything else that is non-perishable. Any food that is in a glass container will not be accepted.
Though the event is on Saturday, those that have food they would like to donate now can leave bags by their mailboxes to be gathered by mail carriers up until the day of the event. Donations can also be left in a specially marked bin at the Turlock Post Office’s main lobby.
“It’s really a heart-warming event,” said Rojas. “The United Samaritans get really low on food during the summer months, so when we come in and give them 5,800 pounds it really gives them a boost.”