Food for thought

PHOTO/D. Brian Burghart

I don't know much about Mark Higgins. He's a nice enough guy with a lovely wife and family who'll talk to people doing person-on-the-street interviews outside of Best Buy in the freezing cold. He's also a retired letter carrier who never forgets someone who interviews him in person-on-the-street interviews outside of Best Buy. He's helping with a national mail carrier effort to collect food for hungry people, called the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Get it? Stamp? It's official day is May 9, so get ready. For more information, check out

So what’s this about a food drive?

It’s a national food drive that the National Association of Letter Carriers sponsors. It usually happens around Mother’s Day each year. It’s basically sponsored by NALC, but it has the support of the United States Post Office, and everybody within—clerks, supervisors, everybody’s got a hand in helping with it. It’s the city and rural letter carriers.

How do people participate?

On this particular one, there are three ways they can actually do it. We deliver postcards two weeks prior. We leave bags the week of the food drive, at most households, not all of them. We don’t put them into like apartment complexes and stuff like that because it’s just too hard to get in. Basically your residence houses that have mailboxes on the port or out on the street. They just leave it in the bag or any container that they want. And the Food Bank, of course, doesn’t want glass items.

What kinds of items do they want—just cans?

They prefer the cans, but they’ll take anything—bags, bagged rice, anything basically that doesn’t spoil. And of course, they prefer things that aren’t broken, and they don’t want things that are outdated—expired—or things like that. And from my understanding, not speaking for them, the high-protein things are always good, but they’ll accept anything.

If people want more information about this, how do they get it?

They can can get it on the website, Probably the better way would be to contact the Food Bank of Northern Nevada,

How much does Reno usually provide for this thing?

For Reno itself, we collect for that one day, and scattered amounts before and afterward. We also get credit for any food that is donated that week, like they buy things at Raley’s, because all the grocery stores, or most of them, are involved in it. So we get credit for that, but for our three sister cities, which are Reno, Carson and Yerington, where we have our union—also a branch has adopted Gardenerville, Minden, Dayton, Incline, Truckee, Alturas and a couple others because they only have rural carriers or P.O. boxes—we normally collect, between those, 140,000 pounds of food. Then Sparks adds on probably another 80,000 pounds, something like that. I would say 200,000 pounds on that one day would not be considered abnormal. Nationally, they probably collect 70 million pounds on that one day.

That’s awesome.

People can also put in cash donations directly to the Food Bank, and give us credit. Their buying power is like 2-to-1 for ours. If I were to buy $10 at the grocery store, their $10 can buy $20 worth of food because they get discounts because they buy in volume. And that helps us out so we don’t have to pick it up and do all the transportation.