Letter carriers and community leaders are gathering at a San Jose post office this morning to kick off Saturday's national food drive at the place where it started nearly 20 years ago.
Tony Cortese, the late branch president of the local post office, started the Stamp Out Hunger campaign in 1991 by helping to feed Santa Clara County families. This year thousands of post offices around the country will be participating in the drive, postal officials said.
Representatives of Second Harvest Food Bank and civic leaders will help raise awareness for Saturday's drive this morning at 8:30 a.m. at the city's newly renamed Tony Cortese Post Office, formerly the San Jose Westgate Post Office at 4285 Payne Ave.
"Today we are doing two things," San Jose Postmaster Sam Vasquez said in a statement. "First, we are bringing awareness to the plight of the hungry, not just here in San Jose, but all across the country...But we also want to recognize that the food drive that is now a national effort started right here, in this post office, by one man -- the late Tony Cortese, a letter carrier himself."
The event is the largest single-day food collection effort in the country, according to postal officials, and last year postal carriers collected more than 77 million pounds of food.
Those interested in participating can find more information about the food drive at www.helpstampouthunger.com.