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Publix buying extra food from farmers to give to Feeding America food banks during pandemic

The company is donating more than 276,000 pounds of produce and 43,560 gallons of milk during the first week of this initiative alone.
Credit: AP
(AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Farmers and food banks have been among the hardest hit in terms of supply when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, and Publix is looking to help. 

The company launched a relief program Wednesday to purchase produce and dairy directly from farmers and donate it to Feeding America food banks.

"Farmers who normally sell their goods to restaurants, schools and hotels are being left without buyers, meaning they are dealing with a huge glut of inventory. In many cases, farmers have no choice but to dump huge amounts of dairy and produce," Publix wrote in a release. 

One dairy farmer in Manatee County knows what having to dump supply feels like first hand. Dakin Farms said it is having to dump 7,000 gallons of milk per day -- that's about $12,000 worth. 

Storage isn't a solution either since state law requires the milk to be moved within 72 hours.

“We have the milk. It’s just we need somebody to step up that will help donate this milk to consumers and everything. There are so many people that need it,” the farm told 10News. 

Now, Publix is stepping in to help farms like Dakin and others, donating more than 276,000 pounds of produce and 43,560 gallons of milk during the first week of this initiative alone.

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

"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.”

RELATED: USDA: Monthly SNAP benefits increased by 40% due to coronavirus

RELATED: Hillsborough cracks down on free school meals after parents get caught selling them online

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