The Jacksonville-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation recently made a $250,000 grant to the Florida Associaton of Food Banks to boost produce distribution to needy patrons.
The money will be used to distribute wholesome but unmarketable produce donated by Florida's grower-packers through the Farmers Feeding Florida initiative to food banks statewide, according to a news release.
More specifically, it will go toward offsetting the cost of repacking bulk foods into more consumer-friendly sizes, such as boxes and bags, and transportation to distribution sites.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was at the Tampa ceremony where Blue Cross presented the check, praised the foundation for its generosity to "put more fresh fruits and vegetables in the hands of people who could otherwise do without."
Putnam says the produce donations help improve the nutritional value of what the food banks are distributing.
The non-profit Florida Association of Food Banks, comprising 3,200 community and faith-based organizations, distributed more than 130 million pounds of food last year. The association is based in Fort Myers.