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Mexican produce redirected to food banks

Mexican produce redirected to food banks

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

Truckloads of produce from Mexico bound for restaurants, hotels and school districts are being routed to food banks in Southern Arizona.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce Bracker and Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson helped coordinate the effort with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, based in Rio Rico.

The association put out a call to its members, asking for any surplus produce to be donated to the effort.

“There are lots of people doing their part during this challenge, from health-care workers to CBP officers at our ports, first responders, and more,” said Scott Vandervoet, FPAA chairman. “Our strength in Santa Cruz County happens to be fresh produce, so that’s what we’re bringing to the table to help our community and our country.”

Aside from the donated produce, local companies donated cold storage space, trucking services and volunteers to operate the distribution sites.

The recent distributions included a full tractor trailer of vegetables to Cochise County, 2½ trailers to Sahuarita and Ajo, and three trailers to Nogales and Rio Rico.

“We are grateful for the partnership with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americans and its members,” Bracker said.

Aside from FPAA, those that stepped up to help include Santa Cruz Cold Storage, Wise Trucking, Naumann/Hobbs Material Handling, Harvey Trucking Inc., Westrock packaging services, Innova Engineering and the city of Nogales.

Dozens of volunteers came from the Nogales and Rio Rico school districts.

Future distribution sites in Santa Cruz, Cochise and Pima counties are being planned.

If you are interested in contributing to this effort or volunteering to help in the distribution of this essential fresh produce assistance email Bracker, bbracker@santacruzcountyaz.gov

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com.

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