Saturday, May 14, the U.S. Postal Service joins forces with the National Association of Letter Carriers to provide assistance to America’s families struggling to put food on their tables.

Last year, according to a press release from the United States Postal Service, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive collected a record 77.1 million pounds of food donations, pushing the 18-year total to more than one billion pounds of food.

The Stamp Out Hunger food drive, held annually the second Saturday in May, has reportedly become the nation’s largest single-day food drive. This year, according to the release, letter carriers representing nearly 1,500 local branches of the postal union will collect food donations along their postal routes. These donations will be used to replenish food banks and pantries in more than 10,000 communities.

“The need continues to grow as 50 million — including 17 million children — live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger in America,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

“Research shows that preschool and school-aged children who experience severe hunger have higher levels of chronic illness, anxiety and depression, and behavior problems than children with no hunger.

“With the commitment and dedication of thousands of letter carriers, rural letter carriers, and postal and community volunteers, plus the involvement of our corporate partners, we will continue making a difference in helping to feed America’s hungry,” said Donahoe.

NALC President Fredric Rolando said the 300,000-member union was “incredibly proud of the partnership with the Postal Service and Campbell Soup Company to support the Stamp Out Hunger food drive that has helped so many millions of families over the years.

“As letter carriers, we see people on our routes six days a week who must rely on the generosity and assistance of others to help provide something as basic as a meal. We’re proud to have established a program that truly provides assistance in every community across the country,” said Rolando.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual study measuring food security in the United States, in 2009, the number of Americans living in a food insecure home surpassed 50 million. Approximately one-third of those at risk of hunger are children (17.2 million).

To participate in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, leave a sturdy bag containing nonperishable food items, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fish or meats, pasta, rice or cereal next to the mailbox prior to regular mail delivery time Saturday, May 14. Letter carriers will collect the food donations as they deliver mail and take them to a local food bank or pantry.

Feeding America, a national partner in the drive, is the nation’s leading domestic-hunger-relief organization, providing assistance annually to more than 37 million U.S. residents.

According to the release, one in eight Americans relies on Feeding America for food and groceries. In a recent survey conducted by Feeding America, nearly half (46 percent) of all households the organization serves reported having to choose between paying for utilities or food.

National partners supporting the drive are the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, Campbell Soup Co., Valpak, the AFL-CIO, United Way, and Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.

For more information, ask a letter carrier, contact a local Post Office, or visit helpstampouthunger.com, facebook.com/StampOutHunger, or twitter.com/StampOutHunger.