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Publix announced Thursday a new initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Publix announced Thursday a new initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a press release from the company, Publix will donate these products directly to Feeding America member food banks in its operating area. The initiative will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic, Publix officials said.

The initiative starts Thursday and is expected to 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,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said. “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 rising unemployment during the pandemic.

“As we respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Publix understands that more families are turning to us to help put food, especially fresh produce and milk, on their tables,” said Feeding South Florida President & CEO Paco Velez. “We’re grateful to Publix for not only supporting growers, but also for their years of support of Feeding South Florida.”

With numerous reports of farmers discarding produce and milk that isn’t being sold — mostly as a result of school, restaurant and hotel closures — Publix hopes to address the needs of both the farming community and its local partner food banks through this initiative.

“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.”

“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. “Thank you to Publix, the participating food banks and their volunteers for making this initiative possible for those less fortunate while supporting local farms.”

“In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time,” Publix’s Jones said. “We’re honored to be able to work with these groups and do good together for our communities.”

Publix Super Markets Charities recently made donations totaling $2 million to support Feeding America member food banks during the pandemic.

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