In an effort to provide relief to farmers and food banks devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, Publix announced a new program Wednesday that hopes to fight hunger and keep famers afloat.
Publix officials said the grocer will purchase produce and dairy directly from farmers and donate it to Feeding America member 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 Publix CEO Todd Jones. “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, farmers who normally sell their goods to restaurants, schools and hotels are being left without buyers, meaning they are dealing with a huge glut of inventory. In many cases, farmers have no choice but to dump huge amounts of dairy and produce.
Research by Feeding America also shows food banks are struggling amid the pandemic. Their regular stream of donations has dried up at a time when an estimated 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment.
“Like so many others right now, Florida farmers are in a time of need. We are humbled Publix is purchasing additional fresh vegetables from us and other local farms to donate to food banks throughout the Southeast,” said Pero Family Farms Food Co. CEO Peter F. Pero IV. “Thank you to Publix, the participating food banks and their volunteers for making this initiative possible for those less fortunate while supporting local farms.”
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. The program will continue for the next several weeks and deliver much-needed food to other food banks across the Southeast.
More than 150,000 pounds of produce, 43,500 gallons of milk is set to be donated to Feeding America food banks during the first week of the initiative, according to a news release.