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ANAHEIM, CA -- Produce and floral suppliers from across the United States and around the world donated an estimated 243,000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers Oct. 14 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

The donation -- made by companies exhibiting at the Produce Marketing Association's 60th anniversary Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition at the Anaheim Convention Center -- is the largest fresh produce donation received to date by the food bank.

The food and flowers were collected from the convention center Oct. 5 by more than 45 local food bank volunteers, and will be distributed to Orange County area residents in need. Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County serves more than 220,000 individuals at risk of hunger each month. Those served include the working poor, children, seniors on fixed incomes, single parents, the disabled, the homeless, and individuals experiencing medical emergencies or recent job layoffs.

"The current economic hardship has resulted in a new demographic of those relying on assistance from food banks -- we are witnessing some of last year's donors as this year's clients. The large quantity of fresh produce donated through the Produce Marketing Association provides a tremendous boost to our efforts to keep pace with the growing need," Joe Schoeningh, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, said in an Oct. 14 PMA press release.

"This remarkable partnership involving the convention center, the food bank and hundreds of generous Fresh Summit exhibitors is making it possible for thousands of Orange County residents in need to enjoy the delicious and nutritious bounty our global produce industry has to offer," PMA President Bryan Silbermann said in the release. "Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption of all consumers is one of PMA's core purposes."

"It is always a pleasure to welcome the Produce Marketing Association to Anaheim," added Tom Morton, Anaheim Convention Center's executive director. "They are truly a community partner, and that could not be more evident than through their local food donations."