As farmers across the country struggle amid a pandemic-driven collapse in demand from food-industry customers—which includes restaurants, cafeterias, and airlines—the supermarket chain Publix has stepped in to buy dairy and fresh produce to donate it to food banks.
The new initiative, which in its first week aims to buy over 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk, was launched Wednesday by the Florida-based company to help both farmers and consumers hit hardest by the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.
“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.”
Over a period of several weeks that the campaign is expected to last, Publix will be donating the milk and produce it buys from farmers to Feeding America member food banks.
“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 and CEO Paco Velez.
According to Feeding America, the pandemic will cause over 17 million more Americans to suffer food insecurity than the U.S. government’s most recent pre-outbreak estimate of 37.2 million, due to school closures and rising unemployment driven by COVID-19.
“No one should go hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Feeding America says in a note on the Coronavirus Response Fund section of its website. “With school closures, job disruptions, and health risks, millions of Americans will turn to food banks for much-needed support.”
As part of the new initiative, Publix will buy food from Florida produce farmers and southeastern dairy farmers.
“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,” said Southeast Milk Inc. president Joe Wright.
In a bid to help farmers struggling amid the disruption caused by the pandemic, President Donald Trump on Friday announced a $19 billion relief program, including $16 billion in direct payments to producers and mass purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables, and other products.
“American agriculture has been hard-hit, like most of America, with the coronavirus, and President Trump is standing with our farmers and all Americans to make sure that we all get through this national emergency,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a White House news conference.
As part of the Trump administration’s bid to help farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it would spend $3 billion to buy fresh produce, dairy, and meat that will be given to food banks for distribution to families in need.