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Publix has purchased more than 1 million pounds of food from farmers to donate

The Lakeland chain is buying food from farmers dealing with surplus to food banks facing increased demand.

Publix has purchased more than 1 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to donate to Feeding America and member food banks since launching its latest aid program two weeks ago.

Publix began purchasing food to donate from farmers in the states it serves on April 22. In addition to produce, Publix also has purchased and donated more than 100,000 gallons of milk.

Related: Publix is buying produce from Florida farms to donate to Feeding Tampa Bay

With restaurants and schools closed, Florida farmers are facing a deep decrease in demand, leaving them with major crop surpluses. At the same time, the pandemic has forced millions out of work, increasing the number of people seeking help at food banks.

"We’re proud of the success this initiative has had in supporting farmers and families affected by the pandemic,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “As a food retailer, feeding families is our greatest opportunity to give back, and we are grateful to be able to do so while supporting produce and dairy farmers. During such challenging times, we are even more committed to supporting those in need and doing good, together.”

Feeding America estimates the pandemic could cause food insecurity for an additional 17.1 million people.

Publix has donated more than $2 billion in food since 2009. The supermarket had pledged an additional $2 billion in donations over the next decade.

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