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Despite challenging economic times, Produce for Kids raised more than $422,000 for local Children's Miracle Network and children's hospitals this spring, bringing the total amount the organization has raised since its inception to more than $2.3 million.

Six regional grocery retailers and 39 fresh fruit and vegetable growers from across the United States participated in the spring Produce for Kids campaign including Acme, Meijer, Giant Foods (Carlisle division), Price Chopper, Publix and the Kroger stores located in Dallas and Houston.

"This year, we knew that families would be struggling with the weight of a severe economic downturn, and we wanted to help them understand that not only could they provide healthy meals for their families, but they could donate to their local children's hospitals without impacting their household budgets," Heidi McIntyre, executive director of Produce for Kids, said in a Sept. 21 press release.

Produce for Kids advocates the benefits of healthy eating and supports children's causes. The organization, along with partner retailers and the participating fresh produce companies, have raised more than $2.3 million, which benefits local Children's Miracle Network hospitals in the spring and Public Broadcasting Service's PBS Kids educational health initiatives in the fall.

John Shuman, founder of Produce for Kids and president of Shuman Produce Inc. in Reidsville, GA, said in the release, "The retailers, suppliers and especially the shoppers are an inspiration, and with their help this spring, we raised nearly $500,000 for sick kids across the country, opening the opportunity to do even more next year."

The 2009 Produce for Kids spring campaign enjoyed support from produce suppliers from across the country. The group was comprised of Apio Inc., Chelan Fresh, Coast Tropical, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Country Fresh Mushrooms, Crunch Pak, Custom Pak, Del Monte Fresh, Desert Glory Ltd., DNE World Fruit Sales, Dole Fresh-Cut Salads, Domex Superfresh Growers, Driscoll's, Dulcinea, Eurofresh Farms, Family Tree Farms, Fowler Packing Co., Fresh Express, HMC Farms, Huron Produce Ltd., Keystone Fruit Inc., Mann Packing, Mastronardi Produce, Oppenheimer, Potandon Produce, Santa Sweets, Shuman Produce, Stemilt Growers, Sterman Masser Inc., Summeripe, Sunkist, SunWest Fruit Co., Marzetti, Thomas Colace Co., Westmoreland, Tropicana, Turbana, Ventura Foods LLC and Village Farms.