Letter-carriers from around the country, in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, will be participating in the nation's largest one-day food drive effort to "Stamp Out Hunger" on May 10.

On that day, letter-carriers will be collecting nonperishable food donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes. Items such as juice, peanut butter, jellies and jams, soup, coffee, cereal, canned meats, vegetables and pasta will be collected to help families in need in our communities.

This is the largest one-day food drive in the nation and the largest and most important food drive of the year for local food pantries such as Loaves & Fishes.

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, explains why this drive is so important.

"Since food pantries and other service organizations are pretty much tapped out by the time our drive rolls around, this infusion of food comes at just the right time," he said. "In fact, the second Saturday in May was specifically chosen for the annual event. By that time, pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity are often bare or nearly so by late spring -- a sad reflection of the reality that widespread hunger in America is a tough problem to solve."

The upcoming summer months are a particularly critical time for many children whose school lunch programs are suspended until fall; their families must find alternate sources of nutrition. Letter-carriers see these families every day as they deliver their mail.

The need is critical, not only now but throughout the entire year. With the commitment of the postmasters and letter-carriers throughout the nine postal communities to implement this food drive, combined with the generosity of postal patrons throughout the area, a significant difference in the lives of many local residents will continue.

Loaves & Fishes hopes to can fill shelves and have plenty of food in reserve to sustain through the summer months with food collected from the Letter Carriers' Food Drive this year. The client base has soared in recent years, reaching over 900 families last year. Over 37 percent of clients are under 18 or over 65, and having plentiful, nutritious food is essential for their health and well-being. L&F is asking everyone to be as generous and supportive this year as they can.

Mark Saturday, May 10, on your calendars NOW! You can help simply by placing your food donation in a bag and leaving it at your mailbox on the morning of the 10th before your letter-carrier arrives or by bringing it directly to your Post Office. Food collected will be delivered directly to the pantries that same day by volunteers. Please do not include out-of-date items or those in glass containers.

If you have questions or would like to volunteer to help at the pantry that day, please call 978-772-4627,.

These are our neighbors and friends -- please help them by being as generous as you are able.