Seventy million pounds of food for hungry Americans, collected on a single day. That's 35,000 tons of relief and was the result of Stamp Out Hunger, the nation's largest single-day food drive, conducted May 12. AARP and AARP Foundation were major sponsors of the 20th year of the event, as they continue to escalate Drive to End Hunger's campaign against food insecurity among Americans 50 and older.
With the National Association of Letter Carriers and U.S. Postal Service in the lead, households across the country left nonperishable food donations by their mailboxes for letter carriers to collect and deliver to local food banks or pantries. AARP and AARP Foundation provided 15 million paper grocery bags to encourage food donations in parts of the country where food insecurity among the 50+ population is greatest. We also provided national media support and a grocery sweepstakes.
It paid off! In the 14 states where bags were distributed, food donations grew year-over-year by 6 million pounds. And these over-the-top results alone don't convey the whole picture. The real stories come from AARP's hardworking state offices in communities across the country. Here are just a few examples:
AARP state office teams and volunteers used energy and imagination to build participation, even in states where the bags were not distributed. Colorado is an example. In Mesa County on Colorado's Western Slope, AARP Colorado and AARP Foundation spurred donations of more than 100,000 pounds of food for Grand Junction and Fruita food banks, nearly doubling the previous year's results.
"Incredible! Your team's contributions to Stamp Out Hunger have ranged from ad and media promotion to e-blast articles and finding partners to engage as volunteers in this effort," said Tresa Ballard, senior adviser for AARP Civic Engagement. Because of thin letter carrier staffing in Mesa County, AARP Colorado sought partners to provide volunteers to pick up food donations.
In Arkansas, grocery bags were distributed across the state and AARP Arkansas did it up big, starting with State President Sherry Walker's participation in a press conference with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe. Extensive exposure resulted for AARP, AARP Foundation, the grocery bags they provided and the Stamp Out Hunger drive.
AARP Arkansas also added to the effort by mobilizing volunteers and chapter membership, by placing an ad in the state's only statewide newspaper and by coordinating among the letter carriers, the United Way and the Arkansas Food Bank. As a result, food donations increased by more than 30 percent year-over-year.