Sending food requires care, whether it's going across town or around the world


Whether sending a food care package across town or around the world, there are some do's and don'ts that apply to the U.S. Postal Service and other commercial mail services, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service. With the holidays coming, advance planning is a must.

When it comes to the government service, Nancy Hertel, communications manager for the Phoenix post office, said the most expedient way to send food is by express mail. For most locations in the United States, this will mean your package will be delivered the next day. An example of cost is $8.75 for 8 ounces and $12 for 2 pounds.

Food can also be sent first class or priority mail; the classification depends on how much the item weighs. First class applies to packages that are 11 ounces or less, while parcels 11 ounces to 70 pounds are classified priority. Parcels sent with this rating take two days to reach most destinations or three days to rural addresses.

When sending mail overseas, each country has its own rate structure, Ms. Hertel said. It's advisable to avoid sending perishables.

"We've received an awful lot of inquiries on sending care packages to Desert Shield," Ms. Hertel said. Because that mail is sent to a NewYork address and then forwarded on via the military, domestic priority mail rates apply.

For people interested in sending care packages to Army, Air Force and Marine Corps ground troops participating in Operation Desert Shield, the address is to Any Service Member, Operation Desert Shield, APO, New York, N.Y. 09848-0006. Packages to Navy and Marine Corps personnel on ships should be sent to Any Service Member, Operation Desert Shield, FPO, New York, N.Y. 09866-0006.

Food items are not among those recommended for inclusion in military care packages; recreational items are. But a good test of a food's ability to withstand extreme temperatures is whether the item could last two days in the back window of a car. Pork items or pork byproducts are not permitted.

First-class or priority mail sent to Desert Shield takes five to 10 days toarrive. Christmas parcels to Desert Shield should be sent by Nov. 16.

All items should be packaged in sturdy cartons with cushioning such as plastic foam popcorn or shredded newspaper to protect it. Packages should not be sealed using any kind of wrap, cord or string, cellophane or masking tape. The delivery address should be written on the parcel only once. Inside, include your name and address as well as that of the recipient.

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