Early returns for the 2014 version of the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) food drive appear to be a mixed bag. I would excuse myself by saying pardon the pun, but in this case the bags seemed to make the difference, and from one letter carrier’s purely anecdotal perspective the drop off in sponsorship appeared to have a significant effect on the outcome.
Campbell’s Soup, who has always been a major – shall we say the primary sponsor of the food drive, elected to pull out from our San Diego effort this year. The rumor mill has a couple of different theories in circulation. Some self-proclaimed pundits cited financial reasons, claiming that Campbell’s is suffering from a downturn in business. Others claimed the company was dissatisfied with the large amount of undistributed food drive bags letter carriers were bringing back with them from the street in previous years. Whatever the case, here in San Diego their logo was conspicuously absent from our food drive bags, having been replaced with a Net-Flix sponsorship logo.
The end of the Campbell’s participation does not seem to be the case across the country. A May 6th article in the Wall Street Journal gave the impression that everything was business as usual as it announced Campbell’s Soup teaming up with the NALC for the 22nd year. The article does not cite any financial problems with the company, whose stock price is currently a seemingly healthy $45.40 per share, nor does it report any friction between the NALC and the company. Therefore, the absence of their logo from our food drive bags here in San Diego baffles me.
Net-Flix is certainly welcome to jump in and their support is greatly appreciated, but apparently they were not as generous as Campbells has been in years past, because we were sorely lacking for bags. It made a difference, because the use of paper grocery bags here has been a resounding success. Last year I personally filled up my LLV, unloaded it, and then filled it up again, a big change from years past in which perhaps only 10 to 15 homes might donate groceries for the food drive.
Prior to 2013 plastic rather than paper bags had been used for the food drive, and I think that the public viewed these largely as trash and they were either thrown out or used as trash can liners. On the other hand, the large paper grocery bag in the mailbox was like waving an enormous flag that the public found hard to ignore, and it seemed to pay dividends. Where the bags were delivered this year people were very generous. Even if customers elected to use their own bags the postal distributed paper sack was a very effective advertisement.
But the lack of full sponsorship this year meant that each route probably received about one fifth of the bags necessary to provide one for each single family home. On those wide, bagless swaths where there weren’t enough sacks to go around the results were barren and spotty at best. Apparently the little postcard is not an effective enough attention getter – the bag makes all the difference.
I personally picked up food from 18 houses today, and only two of my pickups were from streets that did not receive bags. I don’t know how the national results will tally and I am not sure about the extent that Campbells participated in other areas, but their lack of support here in San Diego this year seemed to make a profound difference.
Anyhow, the NALC food drive for 2014 is now in the bag. I would be interested in hearing how it went for other letter carriers in other parts the country, and so your use of the comment button in the upper left hand corner is welcomed and encouraged. Maybe someone out there with a little insight into the Campbell’s Soup situation could share some information that might clear this up. I would be sad to hear that this beautiful marriage has ended everywhere.