Pictures and video of farmers having to pour out, destroy or plow under milk and crops that would go to feed people in schools, hotels and restaurants now empty are the last thing people need to see these days.
In response, Publix announced a new program Wednesday that hopes to fight hunger and keep those farmers afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a release, the supermarket chain said it would purchase produce and dairy directly from farmers and donate it to Feeding America member food banks. More than 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk are set to be donated during the first week of the initiative. Here’s hoping local food providers like the St. Cloud Community Pantry and the Osceola Council on Aging are able to benefit and help the food-needy people of Osceola County.
“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 — and a huge glut of inventory. In many cases, farmers have no choice but to dump huge amounts of product because they do not have the packaging or supply chain in place to sell to supermarkets. This comes at a time when 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Feeding America.
“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.
Publix said it has already delivered its first shipment of donations to member food banks in Miami, Tampa and northeast Florida. The program will continue for the next several weeks and deliver much-needed food to other food banks across the Southeast, the release said.