Publix Super Markets has launched a program to buy fresh produce and milk directly from farmers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and donate the products to food banks.
Publix said Thursday that, so far, it has purchased more than 275,000 pounds of produce and more than 43,000 gallons of milk and donated it to Feeding America member food banks in the grocer’s Southeastern operating area. After the first delivery yesterday in Miami, Publix made deliveries to another 16 food banks in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
The initiative, which got under way last week, is expected to run for several weeks, according to Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix. The company noted that the program will support not only Florida produce farmers and dairy farmers in the Southeast but also the rising number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruit, vegetables and milk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “In this time of uncertainty, we are grateful to be able to help Florida’s produce farmers, southeastern dairies and families in our communities.”
With reports of farmers discarding produce and milk not being sold, largely because of school, restaurant and hotel closings amid the pandemic, Publix said it aims to provide some relief to both the farming community and local food bank partners.
“We are thrilled about Publix’s initiative to buy additional milk from Southeast Milk for processing and donation to Feeding America member food banks,” said Southeast Milk Inc. President Joe Wright. “It’s a win-win for our farmers who are feeling the impact of decreased demand and the families who are in need of nutrient-rich milk during this pandemic.”
Right now, Florida farmers are “in a time of need,” according to Peter Pero IV, CEO of Pero Family Farms Food Co.
“We are humbled Publix is purchasing additional fresh vegetables from us and other local farms to donate to food banks throughout the Southeast,” Pero stated. “Thank you to Publix, the participating food banks and their volunteers for making this initiative possible for those less fortunate while supporting local farms.”
An estimated 17.1 million people will experience food insecurity as a result of school closures and escalating unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis, Feeding America reported.
“As we respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Publix understands that more families are turning to us to help put food, especially fresh produce and milk, on their tables,” commented Feeding South Florida President and CEO Paco Velez. “We’re grateful to Publix for not only supporting growers, but also for their years of support of Feeding South Florida.”
In March, Publix Super Markets Charities announced a $1 million donation to Feeding America food banks in the Southeast and then followed it up with another $1 million contribution last week.
“In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time,” Jones added about the produce and milk purchasing program. “We’re honored to be able to work with these groups and do good together for our communities.”
Overall, Publix operates 1,242 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
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