Mail trucks hitting the streets this weekend may come back more full than when they left the post office.
Saturday is the annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive, a nationwide event where letter carriers pick up nonperishable food donations from customers along their mail routes.
The one-day food drive brought in 35,000 pounds of food in Santa Cruz County last year, with nearly 12,000 pounds of that coming though the Watsonville post office.
Angeles Nunez, a Watsonville mail carrier and the food drive coordinator for the main post office, said carriers are happy to help.
"I think it's a positive side to the post office," said Nunez.
The donated food will fill the shelves at Second Harvest food bank and feed Santa Cruz County residents in need through the spring season.
"It's one of our biggest" food drives, according to Lisa Allyn, senior food drive and events manager at Second Harvest.
Watsonville-based National Letter Carriers Association branch 857 kicked off the annual food drive Tuesday by presenting a $200 check to Second Harvest. That money translates into 600 meals.
"They're off to a good start," Allyn said, adding that in this food drive "really, the postal people do the heavy lifting."
The Food Bank had a record-breaking holiday food drive, but most of those supplies are already gone, according to Allyn. Danny Keith, chief development officer for Second Harvest, added that the food bank's stock of staple foods has diminished this year due to USDA reductions.
"We're getting less and we have more need," Keith said.
Residents can leave nonperishable foods—such as peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, soups, stews, chili, canned meat and tuna, cereal, beans, rice and pasta—in their mailbox on Saturday. To make donating easy, grab the "Stamp Out Hunger" paper grocery bag that should come with mail delivery this week, fill it up and leave it next to the mailbox.
"We can all be part of this great effort to help the many people who are struggling with continued economic instability," Keith said.
And don't worry if Boy Scouts pick up the food donations instead of postal workers. Some troops will be out helping letter carriers with the load.