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Produce and floral suppliers from across the United States and around the world donated an estimated 266,330 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida following the close of the 2010 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition, held Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, FL.

The food and flowers were collected from the Orange County Convention Center Oct. 18 by more than 100 local food bank volunteers, and were to be distributed to needy residents served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which serves needy residents in six central Florida counties through 600 non-profit agencies.

Additionally, five other food banks will be recipients of this donated product: Harry Chapin Food Bank, serving Fort Myers; Second Harvest North Florida, serving 18 counties in the Jacksonville area; Feeding America Tampa Bay; Treasure Coast Food Bank, serving Fort Pierce; and America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend, serving the Tallahassee area. These food banks in turn serve many emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and meal sites for low-income senior citizens.

"This donation is such an important contribution we make to the community here, especially given the hard economic times that have plagued our country and this state," Bryan Silbermann, president and chief executive officer of PMA, said in an Oct. 18 press release. “I can’t think of a better way to wrap up Fresh Summit than to offer our fresh produce to those who could use it most, and I’m so pleased we were able to work with such a capable and connected organization as Second Harvest Food Bank.”

“This is an especially meaningful contribution, not only due to the sheer size of it but also because fresh fruits and vegetables are the very kinds of highly nutritious food that our low-income families, seniors, and others are often lacking in their diets,” Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, added in the press release. “These products make a deep impact in a problem that has risen to historic and urgent proportions in central Florida, and we are grateful.”

“Feeding America owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to PMA not only for this donation but for all of their efforts over the years to help us provide many pounds of fresh, nutritious produce to the millions of Americans living on the brink of hunger,” Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, concluded in the press release.