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Adele Yoshikawa, Pearl City Post Office letter carrier and Stamp out Hunger Food Drive media coordinator, showcases needed items for Hawai‘i Foodbank.

Research shows more than 42 million Americans are uncertain where their next meal is coming from. The National Association of Letter Carriers’ hope is to alleviate this issue with its upcoming Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which is held annually in collaboration with Hawai‘i Foodbank.

This Saturday, May 13, letter carriers from across the nation will collect nonperishable food donations from customers who share in its mission of feeding the hungry. Reminder cards and blue bags have already been delivered to Hawai‘i residents and businesses, encouraging them to join the cause. Community members are asked to leave their goods — including highly requested items such as Spam, Vienna sausage, and canned fruits and vegetables — in a hidden place with a note notifying the letter carrier of the donation’s exact location.

Jasper Agonoy, Pearl City Post Office city carrier assistant, organizes canned goods collected from a recent drive.

Adele Yoshikawa, a letter carrier for 25 years at Pearl City Post Office and media coordinator of the food drive for the past 15 years, says the public can also contribute virtually by making monetary donations year-round through the website fund-raise.givesmart.com/vf/nalc or by texting NALC to 71777.

She notes that although NALC had to suspend its food drive in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, it successfully launched the website and online donations paid for $675,000 pounds of food — the second-highest total ever collected in the state’s history of food drives. This year, she says the aim is even higher: a million pounds of food.

Pearl City Post Office letter carriers pose for a group photo with their donation to Hawai‘i Foodbank following a recent Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. PHOTOS COURTESY ADELE YOSHIKAWA

“If any time they needed food, it would be now,” says Yoshikawa.

According to NALC’s fundraising page, the timing of the food drive is crucial. Typically by springtime, many pantries are depleted following the holidays and enter the summer low on supplies. In addition, many school breakfast and lunch programs aren’t available to those in need.

At an elementary school’s career day in March, Yoshikawa shared with keiki that letter carriers do more than just deliver mail — they also do their part to assist the less-fortunate through food drives. Her comments led one child to respond, “My mommy takes us over there (food banks) and we get food.”

“I just started tearing,” admits Yoshikawa. “This is why we do this.

“It could be ordinary people,” she continues. “I had friends who, during COVID, lost their jobs and they had to go to the food bank. It wasn’t just them feeding the homeless or low-income (individuals). People that had great jobs were in a situation where they needed to ask for food, too.”

And so letter carriers like Yoshikawa continue to do their part to assist others.

“The aloha spirit, a lifetime of helping, that is the true essence of this food drive of all of us working together. That’s the only way we can get through all of this adversity, is by sticking together,” she says.

“Together, let’s stamp out hunger.”