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Annual post office food drive is Saturday in Farmington

Shane Hoff is organizing the Farmington Post office's annual Stamp Out Hunger drive this Saturday.

For Farmington's mail carriers, a little extra lifting and carrying is a small sacrifice for an opportunity to help the people they serve every day.

The Farmington Post Office will join post offices nationwide Saturday for the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The event asks residents to set out food for their mail carriers to collect and deliver.

All of the food collected in Farmington will go to the Farmington Food Shelf, something that might not be clear in promotional material residents were to receive this week. Shane Hoff, who coordinates the drive for the Farmington Post Office, said local carriers tried to print replacement materials, but postal union regulations do not allow that.

Hoff said it's important to Farmington carriers to keep the food in town.

"These are the people we deal with every day," he said. "They're the people that we look out for. The post office is all about customer service."

Mail carriers might know more than just about anybody else where there is a need for food assistance in Farmington. They see a wide range of Farmington residents on a regular basis. They stop and talk with the people they deliver to, and while the conversation doesn't necessarily focus on who is having trouble putting food on the table, it's still possible to get a sense of who needs a hand.

The drive means a little extra work for carriers, but because most use a truck there isn't too much additional carrying. Nobody much minds the effort, Hoff said. Carriers get a bit competitive about what they bring back from their route.

"It's a competition, just like anything else in life," Hoff said. "It's kind of nice to say, 'Hey, I'm on a route with people who actually care.'"

The post office keeps a record on an office bulletin board of how much food they bring in each year. In 2010, they collected 7,731 pounds of food. Last year, that total dropped to 4,630 pounds. Hoff isn't sure why, whether it was the economy or the fact the weather was rainy and sloppy. He's hoping for better results this year.

"We're all pretty proud of what we do," he said. "It's a big deal."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606