Mar 29, 2021
Texas produce group, food bank launch Viva Fresh pledge

The Texas International Produce Association announced a new partnership with the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley at the recent Viva Fresh Expo’s keynote luncheon.

According to a news release, Food Bank RGV’s Viva Fresh Produce Pledge, “A Gift from Farms to Families is a new program that will serve as a year-round collection effort of fresh produce donations to help food insecure communities in Texas.

Participating companies can “pledge” in 2021 to provide fruits and vegetables in 2022. Whether it be a single load, multiple loads or on a rotating basis throughout the year, TIPA and Food Bank RGV will in turn provide this produce to food insecure families in the region.

“In the past year, our region has been hard hit by not only the pandemic, but also  hurricanes in July, droughts in November and December, and a historic freeze in February,” said Dante Galeazzi, president & CEO of the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) . “Businesses have absolutely suffered, but many families are suffering more. This is about Texans helping Texans and families helping families.

This effort’s objective is to not only continue feeding vulnerable households, but also help Texas communities by giving them broader access to healthy foods. Food banks across the country often have a shortage of fresh and nutritious foods. A variety of research shows that food insufficiency, especially a lack of fresh produce, can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart conditions due to poor nutrition. This problem has been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ed Bertaud, director of retail sales for IFCO and Viva Fresh Steering Committee member remarked, “From inception, our mission for Viva Fresh has been to promote and increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. We are proud to announce our new partnership with Food Bank RGV at this year’s Viva Fresh Expo. Additionally, these efforts align with our continued quest to cast a spotlight on the power of the Tex-Mex corridor and the nutrient dense foods we grow and ship, as well as their ability to improve overall personal health.”

TIPA and Food Bank RGV reiterated that this is not a traditional one-time donation.  This will be a collective of on-going industry efforts to provide a consistent and reliable source of fresh fruits and vegetables to the many clients served by the Food Bank RGV.

Stuart Haniff, MHA-CEO of the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Food Bank RGV) commented, “As a hub of fresh produce and a health-conscious food bank,  we are honored and excited to partner with an association that  advocates for healthier lifestyles among its members and stakeholders.” Haniff continued, “We look forward to supporting Texans throughout our region with vital, delicious, and healthy produce which will strengthen our communities today and for years to come.”

Temperature checks were administered to event attendees.

Galeazzi finished by saying, “Through our partnership with Food Bank RGV we now have the opportunity to support our communities here at home by not only offering employment and economic stimulus, but by also keeping our neighbors healthy and safe.”

Participating companies can volunteer by committing to donating a certain amount of pounds or loads in the 2022 calendar year. Interested potential partners are encouraged to contact TIPA or Food Bank RGV for more information or to join the effort.

The Viva Fresh Produce Expo was established in 2015 by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) in order to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for its members while shining a light on the importance of the Rio Grande Valley as an emerging trade corridor and production zone for healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year long.

For more information, visit here.

 The Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) was founded in 1942 and represents over 330 member companies as they educate, advocate, promote and represent the fresh produce industry of more than $8 billion dollars that is either produced in Texas or considers Texas its first point of arrival for domestic distribution.

For information, please visit here.

The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley Inc. (Food Bank RGV) is clearinghouse for smaller food pantries and on-site feeding organizations throughout Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron counties.

Viva Fresh Expo enforced social distancing procedures.

The Food bank is the 28th-largest in the nation and fourth-largest in Texas and affiliated with both Feeding America and Feeding Texas. Their programs include child feeding sites for Boys and Girls Clubs through the Kids Café program, Operation Kid Pack and accessible food for all those in need including seniors, women and children.

They serve over 1 million individuals through 275 partner agencies and network members.

For more information please visit here.

Photo a top: Exhibit booths were busy at the recent Viva Fresh Expo. Just over 1,200 people attended the show and carried out the safety measures promised in advance to keep everyone safe as the industry met up for one of the first times in person in over a year – masks mandatory in trade show areas, temperature checks before all events, HealthShield app to report any symptoms and plexiglass in meeting areas.

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