FORT PIERCE – Treasure Coast Food Bank and Publix Super Markets Charities have announced a gift of $100,000 to the food bank to support its Florida Agriculture & Nourishment Collaborative.

The Collaborative, anchored at Treasure Coast Food Bank’s former distribution center, will provide millions of additional pounds of fresh, locally-grown produce for families and individuals most in need on the Treasure Coast. The Collaborative is scheduled to begin in early 2017 following a $2.4 million conversion of the distribution center into a fully-operational production kitchen.

“We’re excited to see the impact this donation will make locally, enabling the production kitchen to get up and running and get more fruits and vegetables into the community,” said Jamie Laviolette, Publix District Manager. “We’re proud to partner with Treasure Coast Food Bank in many different ways. It’s just a part of Publix giving back to the community. It’s what we do.”

The Collaborative works by extending the shelf life of fresh produce through minimally processing and cold-storing it, which enables getting it in the hands of more individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it.

“We’re so grateful to Publix Super Markets Charities for this donation to our Florida Agriculture & Nourishment Collaborative,” said Judith Cruz, CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “Every dollar really makes an impact. For every dollar, we are able to provide eight meals. This will allow us to move forward on our production plant and bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the community.”

The donation is the most recent in a continuing partnership with Publix, which includes supporting Treasure Coast Food Bank through its Perishable Recovery Program, Publix Serves Days, and the donation last year of a refrigerated truck.

The production kitchen will include both a wash/chop/packaging system to convert whole produce into pre-cut, refrigerated portions, and a cook/vacuum-pack system to process raw vegetables into ready-to-use products such as tomato sauce.

The benefits of the program and the essence of calling it the Florida Agriculture & Nourishment Collaborative are greater than nutritious food alone. The Collaborative brings a new market to area farmers for produce that now has no market. It also provides a low-cost source of food for school meals. It creates additional jobs on the Treasure Coast, and will be the core of an internship training program for individuals to gain skills in food production.

The announcement was made during the kick-off of “Pack the House,” a 24-hour food sorting and packing event that is Treasure Coast Food Bank’s signature event of Hunger Action Month.

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