Publix buying produce, excess milk directly from farmers and donating it to food banks

Publix is continuing their mission to help as many people as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lakeland-based grocer announced they have begun purchasing fresh produce and milk directly from farmers impacted by the outbreak and will then donate the items to Feeding America member food banks.

The initiative will run for several weeks.

“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, an estimated 17.1 million additional people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and unemployment.

The CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida, Dave Krepcho,says he’s seeing demand for the food doubling.

"This particular harvest season is coinciding with the pandemic season so that timing is very fortuitous if you want to call it that. That fresh produce and the milk compliments the other inventory that we have. We have non-perishable items that we have too. But when you put all this together it’s just a great variety and great quality of food for family."

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Many farmers have reported having to discard produce and milk not being sold, mostly because of hotel, school and restaurant closures.

Publix says they hope to address the needs of both the farming community and its local partner food banks.

“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.”

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Publix recently made donations totaling $2 million to support Feeding America food banks.