Supermarket chain Publix announced in April that the company would commit to purchasing produce and milk from local farmers in an effort to offset losses incurred by agriculture workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Publix also committed to donating the purchased produce and dairy to Feeding America food banks throughout the Southeast to provide fresh fruits, vegetables and milk to families in need in the midst of the 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 at the time.
Last week, less than three months after the initiative began, Publix announced that more than 5 million pounds of produce and 350,000 gallons of milk have been bought and donated.
So far, the grocery chain has worked with produce farmers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, with plans to expand the program to Tennessee and Virginia in the coming weeks.
“During these challenging times, we remain committed to working together to find the solutions that positively impact our communities in need. We are honored to continue our support of Feeding America member food banks and to purchase produce and milk from farmers across the Southeast,” Jones said in a press release Wednesday. “As the harvest season moves north, so is our initiative, expanding to support additional farmers and serve as many people as possible.”
The Publix initiative was created as a way to support farmers, whose demand decreased dramatically as restaurants and other food-serving establishments closed due to COVID-19. Many were forced to throw away their products, as they were producing more than they could sell. The program also aimed to serve families, such as those who were impact by school closings, as many people rely on school meals for daily nourishment.
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Cox Media Group