(Oct. 16) HOUSTON — Growers, shippers and other produce marketers exhibiting at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2007 helped provide healthier eating options to the convention city’s poor.

A record volume of leftover produce offerings displayed at the show were donated to the Houston Food Bank through the Chicago-based America's Second Harvest, said Rick Bella, America’s Second Harvest’s director of purchasing and value-added processing.

PMA participants during the Oct. 13-15 event this year donated 300,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, up from the 280,000 pounds donated at Fresh Summit 2006 in San Diego.

Bella said the donations expose the food assistance agencies to different types of produce that they might not otherwise buy.

“For them to get higher-priced produce, such as kiwifruit, avocados, grapes and summer fruit that people on limited incomes don’t normally buy, is of real value,” Bella said.

The food was distributed to a variety of Houston’s food relief agencies, he said.