LAKELAND, Fla. – Publix announced this week that it will purchase fresh produce and milk to help farmers who have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

The supermarket chain will donate these products to Feeding America member food banks operating in the communities they serve. The company estimates 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk will be purchased and donated in the program’s first week.

The initiative is expected to run several weeks and will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruit, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Florida-based grocery chain’s move has met with national acclaim, including a “thank you” message tweeted Thursday by Vice President Mike Pence.

“As a food retailer, we have

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