LAKELAND, Fla. (WTXL) — Publix announced a new initiative on Wednesday to purchase fresh produce and milk to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Publix will donate these products directly to Feeding America member food banks in its operating area.
The initiative will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative began Wednesday and is expected to run for several weeks.
To kick off the new initiative in its first week, Publix is buying 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk from farmers and donating it to Feeding America food banks.
“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,” said Todd Jones, the CEO of Publix. “In this time of uncertainty, we are grateful to be able to help Florida’s produce farmers, southeastern dairies and families in our communities.”
According to Feeding America, an estimated 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment during the pandemic.
“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,” said Paco Velez, the president & CEO of Feeding South Florida. “We’re grateful to Publix for not only supporting growers, but also for their years of support of Feeding South Florida.”
With numerous reports of farmers discarding produce and milk that isn’t being sold, mostly as a result of school, restaurant and hotel closures, Publix says it hopes to address the needs of both the farming community and its local partner food banks through this initiative.
“In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time,” Jones said. “We’re honored to be able to work with these groups and do good together for our communities.”
Publix delivered its first shipment of donations to Feeding South Florida in Miami, Feeding Tampa Bay and Feeding Northeast Florida, officials said in a news release.
Publix Super Markets Charities recently made donations totaling $2 million to support Feeding America member food banks during the pandemic.
Since 2009, Publix has donated more than $2 billion in food to people in need and has pledged an additional $2 billion in food donations over the past 10 years.