Publix’s initiative to support farmers and the food insecure has proven to be a success beyond expectations. In a little more than two months, the retailer has donated 5 million pounds of produce and 350,000 gallons of milk to Feeding America member food banks.
The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer also has expanded the program out of its native Florida and is now also purchasing produce from farmers in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Tennessee and Virginia farmers will be added 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,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “As the harvest season moves north, so is our initiative, expanding to support additional farmers and serve as many people as possible.”
Publix created and implemented the initiative to support farmers and families being impacted by the pandemic. As the coronavirus caused schools, restaurants, hotels and other businesses to close, farmers were forced to discard produce and raw milk due to decreased demand. At the same time, more individuals and families began turning to Feeding America member food banks as people subsequently lost their jobs due to pandemic closures.
“We have received more than 720,000 pounds of produce and 97,000 gallons of milk from Publix over the last 10 weeks. This has helped us provide food to more than 1 million individuals,” said Paco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, one of the food banks being helped by Publix.