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NM's postal carriers go to bat for hunger May 11


It is nearly summer, and time to go to bat for those struggling with hunger in New Mexico.

This Saturday, letter carriers with the U.S. Postal Service will collect nonperishable food items on the doorsteps of customers as part of "Stamp Out Hunger," the nation's largest one-day food drive.

Marie Montano, a letter carrier and member of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 504 in Albuquerque, participates each year because she said it is a chance to give back to the community.

"The end of April, I start talking about it to my customers, letting my customers know," Montano explained. "Every little bit counts. One day alone, at one station, we get close to about 500 pounds per carrier."

Feeding America's 2023 "Map the Meal Gap" study found one in five children and one in seven people overall are at risk of hunger in New Mexico.

Those who want to help can fill a sturdy bag or box with nonperishable food and leave it next to their mailbox on Saturday before their usual mail delivery.

The drive in Albuquerque will benefit Roadrunner Food Bank, which distributes food within the city and also statewide.

Sonya Warwick, director of communications and events for the food bank, knows there is a significant need right now, because more people are showing up at distribution sites.

"It's one of the largest food drives that happens all across the country," Warwick pointed out. "Going into the summer months is very critical food for us, given that we do see hunger spike with little kiddos out of school and they may not have access to those free and reduced (price) meals that they typically would get at school."

In addition to Roadrunner, food banks in other parts of the state including Santa Fe and Artesia are participating. Warwick emphasized New Mexico's food banks are always working to close the state's meal gap.

"It can be difficult simply because there are so many communities across the state who have so much need, particularly rural communities in our state," Warwick stressed. "They tend to see much larger hunger rates especially among the most vulnerable, like children."

For those who cannot participate, Warwick added a monetary donation is always helpful because it allows Roadrunner to purchase food in categories not donated as often.