Publix gives back to community food banks
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many Florida farmers to throw away and spoil tons of dairy and produce because they are unable to sell them to restaurants, theme parks, and schools nationwide right now. Among the produce left to rot or get dumped included harvested zucchini and yellow squash, and unpicked tomatoes.
Other states face the same issue; agriculture officials say leafy greens in California have taken the biggest hit, and dairy farmers in Vermont and Wisconsin have had to dump a surplus of milk that was originally intended for restaurants. But instead of allowing the food to go to waste, one grocery chain has taken note of the hardships and came up with a better way to make use of the unsold food.
Since April, Publix has been purchasing an excess supply of produce and dairy and has been donating it to food banks across the Southeast. According to the grocery store’s news release, the total comes out to a little more than 11 million pounds of produce and 500,000 gallons of milk.
“Millions of Americans aren’t sure where they will get their next meal, and as a food retailer, we can make a difference,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in the release. “It’s been our privilege at Publix to help people in need for many years, most recently with our new program supporting farmers, food banks and families hit particularly hard by the pandemic.”
Publix has been working with its outreach arm, Publix Super Markets Charities, and Feeding America member food banks to obtain proper funding and keep food on families’ tables. This year alone, Publix Charities has donated $5 million toward those efforts, the news release goes on to say.
Florida is the top harvester of tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, and peppers in Florida during this time of year. Many of the crops are meant for grocery stores, but farmers also cater a lot to the so-called foodservice market — restaurants, schools, and theme parks. Unfortunately, due to social distancing and quarantine orders, people are not going out, thus these industries have been losing business.
Their decrease in business has created a domino effect on the farming industry. Like Publix, many growers have donated produce to food banks, but food banks also have limits on what they can accept and store.
By: Maytinee Kramer