Feeding Florida has received a $400,000 donation from the Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Companies (Florida Farm Bureau) to assist with getting Florida-grown fruits and vegetables to those affected by COVID-19. The donation will also support Florida farmers, who are struggling due to a decreased demand for their products as the hospitality and restaurant industry has primarily come to a halt statewide. Distribution will occur through Feeding Florida’s existing statewide network of 12- member food banks through the Farmers Feeding Florida program.
Since 2010, Feeding Florida has operated the Farmers Feeding Florida program, which covers transportation and distribution, through the Feeding Florida network, of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida. The program also pays Florida growers a pick and pack out fee to assist in defraying some of the investment cost to harvest produce. Feeding Florida works consistently with growers as part of its supply chain and has recovered over 30 million pounds of Florida commodities in the last year.
With this generous donation from the Florida Farm Bureau, the program will expand to meet the increasing demand for food in Florida.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis for the Florida agricultural industry because of the decrease in demand from restaurants and the hospitality industry, while placing an increased demand on food banks due to the extreme unemployment, said Robin Safley, Executive Director of Feeding Florida. "We are incredibly grateful for this partnership with the Florida Farm Bureau and are immediately applying their donation to a proven program that will recover as many Florida products as possible to assist our growers and communities in need during this crisis."
The expansion of the Farmers Feeding Florida program will allow Feeding Florida to distribute products not just through its traditional food bank channels, but also to processing partners who can extend the shelf life of fresh produce. Together, these partners will establish a system that utilizes produce received to prepare nutritious meals and to process items for later use. The prepared meals will be deployed through the Feed the Need initiative, a network of restaurants throughout the state, and used as emergency meals for seniors, children, or adults.
“Everything we do is built around helping people. Insurance is a safety net designed to provide people comfort and peace of mind in the face of adversity—and now more than ever, people need to feel that peace,” said Steve Murray, President & CEO of Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Companies, “This donation to support Feeding Florida, as well as Florida agriculture, is one of the ways the Farm Bureau Insurance companies can give back to the communities we serve, and we are happy to fulfill that obligation of service.”