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Caring Through Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed non-essential businesses and schools, furloughed workers, tanked financial markets, quarantined individuals and families and placed undue stress on our healthcare system. Although many businesses struggle to maintain footing amid the uncertainty of the times, the “We’re In This Together” mentality has brought a vital trait to the forefront - kindness. While most states are still in lockdown, some good news about good deeds in the food and beverage industry may help shed some light during these dark times.

Thank you to Wish Farms, Chopt Creative Salad Co., Dos Toros and United Fresh Start Foundation for demonstrating caring for the community with outreach programs during this health crisis.

Wish Farms Supplies Local Food Banks Amid Crisis

International grower and year-round marketer of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms, is aiding local food banks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The need is urgent. We have seen double the amount of people we normally see since the crisis began. With stores having a hard time keeping shelves stocked, our organization’s usual supply chain has been severely interrupted,” said Mary Heysek, Director of United Food Bank of Plant City, Florida.

Over the last two weeks, Wish Farms has donated 220,000 pounds of fresh strawberries (equivalent to 241 pallets on 9 semi-trucks) to Feeding Tampa Bay, United Food Bank of Plant City and others.

“Our industry has been under pressure to keep produce flowing to consumers during this unprecedented time. Our team is working diligently to keep our retail customers stocked,” said Gary Wishnatzki, Owner of Wish Farms. “However, we can’t forget that many millions of Americans were already food insecure before this crisis hit. We stand ready to support our food bank partners now and in the future, because everyone deserves to have access to healthy food.”

The health benefits of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have been widely shared with the public over the decades. Studies have shown that they support healthy immune, cardiovascular and digestive health among many others.  

About Wish Farms:
Feel Good. Eat Berries. Make A Difference. It isn’t just a catchy phrase, giving back is engrained in the company culture. Through the Wish Farms Family Foundation, a portion of profits are dedicated to their three pillars of giving: Food Insecurity, Community and Education. With a defined mission, they hope to make the world a better place.

Founded in 1922, Wish Farms is a fourth-generation, family operated company. As a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, it grows both conventional and organic varieties. Nationally recognized for innovation, Wish Farms utilizes patented traceability technology to ensure quality and safety by tying consumer feedback to specific information from each day’s harvest. 

Chopt and Dos Toros Donate Over 21,000 Meals To Hospital Staff In First Two Weeks of Give-Back Initiative

The newest program from Chopt Creative Salad Co. and Dos Toros, Feed the Frontlines, has donated over 23,000 healthy meals to medical professionals on the frontlines helping battle COVID-19.

After raising $250,000 with several founding partners, both eateries have been nourishing those on the frontlines by providing over 1,000 fresh, healthy meals a day to sustain the people who are sustaining us starting with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital. Since launch, Chopt and Dos Toros have expanded the program to include other hospitals including Memorial Sloan Kettering, North Shore University Hospital and Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York, Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

In an effort to help as many medical professionals as they can, Chopt and Dos Toros are also providing their customers the opportunity to join their giveback efforts, by simply adding a "Feed the Frontline" salad to their cart with 100% of donations used to provide meals to those on the frontlines.

United Fresh Start Foundation Awards $25,000 
Through COVID-19 Donation Program to Help Kids and Families

The United Fresh Start Foundation has infused the fresh produce industry with 25 $1,000 COVID-19 Rapid Response FRESH Grants to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for children and families in need, while also creating opportunities for foodservice distributors experiencing lost markets due to the restaurant, hospitality, and school shutdowns.

“During this time of crisis, we’re honored to be able to ensure that 25 more communities will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Lisa McNeece, Vice President, Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Enterprises, Inc., and Chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation Board of Trustees. “We praise all of the companies across the supply chain working within their communities to broaden access to fresh fruits and vegetables, despite their own economic hardships.”

The 25 grant recipients will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to children and families in need, reaching them in schools, community centers, and other emergency feeding sites.

Grant recipient DNO Produce will donate fresh produce to hundreds who are served by the organization Communities in Schools, working with the Southwest City Schools, in Grove City, OH.

“When you know what the right thing to do is, it is important that you move forward and do it wholeheartedly—that’s what DNO Produce always strives to do,” added Alex DiNovo, President and COO, DNO Produce.

Another grant recipient, Brothers Produce of Dallas, Inc. has committed fresh produce donations to hundreds of families that are part of the local community served by Range Elementary School in Mesquite, TX.

“Our community has been very appreciative of the fresh produce donations,” said Jose Monreal, Finance/HR Director, Brothers Produce of Dallas, Inc. “We are so glad to be able to provide our underserved community with access to fresh fruits and vegetables to help ease their burden of bringing food to the table.”

Zafar Produce Inc., located near Binghamton, New York, used their grant funds to help serve hundreds through their local food bank.

“The Food Bank of Hudson Valley was ecstatic to receive our bananas, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries,  and avocados,” said Tom Brandt, Director of Real Estate, Zafar Produce Inc. “We’re thrilled that we took advantage of this opportunity to give back to our local community and we will be looking for additional opportunities to serve them in the future.”

This program is funded through the generosity of those individuals who have agreed to donate their prepaid registration fees for the United Fresh 2020 Convention in San Diego to the United Fresh Start Foundation. Additional donations will allow the Foundation to build upon its efforts to support companies with fresh produce donations to those in need. Make your donation here to ensure kids are growing up fresh!

“We’re proud to continue bringing community members and the supply chain together to break down the barriers that impact access to fresh produce during this extraordinary time,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh.

Visit United Fresh Start Foundation for complete details on the COVID-19 Rapid Response FRESH Grants program.

About United Fresh Start Foundation
The United Fresh Start Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused exclusively on increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Affiliated with the United Fresh Produce Association, the Foundation is committed to helping today’s kids achieve the public health goal to make half their plate fruits and vegetables to live longer, healthier lives. The Foundation works to create an environment in which kids have easy access to high-quality, great-tasting and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, whenever and wherever they are choosing snacks or a meal. 

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