More than 17,000 pounds of fresh produce went to the Food Bank of Monterey County after the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Expo.

PMA Expo exhibitors donate fresh produceOne-fifth of the population of Monterey County is now receiving food assistance; around 90,000 residents receive food assistence each year, up from 55,300 in 2005, according to a PMA news release. The donation of 17,141 pounds of produce will go to helping residents eat more fruits and vegetables, according to a news release.

“Here in Monterey County over 20% of the population struggles with hunger, including 1 in 4 children,” Melissa Kendrick, executive director of the Food Bank for Monterey County, said in the release. “As the “Salad bowl of America,’ we could not accomplish what we do without the generous support of the ag community in our fight against hunger.”

For more than 15 years, exhibitors at the foodservice conference have been donating fresh produce to the county.

“The produce industry is in a unique position to give back,” Barbara Keckler, marketing manager for Potandon Produce and PMA Exhibitor Advisory Committee member, said in the release. “The exhibitors who came together to donate fresh, healthy product to those in need did a good thing this weekend, and I’m proud to know it’ll make a difference in Monterey County.”