Acme Markets, one of the area's major supermarket chains, has joined The Inquirer's food-collection drive for hunger relief.

The Malvern-based firm will create food drop-off stations at the front of all its 71 stores in the Delaware Valley, Acme president Judy Spires said yesterday.

Launched March 4, the drive seeks to collect 180,000 pounds of food in 180 days and to date has received about 50,000 pounds. Collected foods are distributed by Philabundance and the Food Bank of South Jersey.

"We felt that by partnering with The Inquirer and Philabundance and the Food Bank of South Jersey, we can make an even bigger impact at a time when the need is so great," Spires said.

Acme drop-off stations will feature signs with the "180,000 Pounds in 180 Days" slogan.

The food banks say the most usable items include canned foods that can serve as the basis for a meal. These include canned tuna, chili, pasta, beef ravioli, beef stew, and pork and beans or baked beans.

Other especially useful items include: jelly, fruit cocktail, creamy peanut butter, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices, infant formula, macaroni and cheese, evaporated and powdered milk, puddings and custards, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, and muffin or bread mixes.

Items should be in nonbreakable containers such as plastic or cans or cardboard. Glass containers are not acceptable due to the risk of breakage.

Further information about ways and places to donate is available at www.philabundance.org, at www.foodbanksj.org, and at www.philly.com/180food.

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@phillynews.com.