( Brooke Park )

From salads to mangoes and broccoli rabe, produce companies are stressing the need to eat healthfully during the pandemic.

Here are some recent news items from the industry.

California Strawberry Commission

The California Strawberry Commission released a video showing how farmers are keeping employees safe during the global pandemic.

The 30-second video and an extended format version depict the steps farmers are taking to follow safety recommendations from the commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local governments, according to a news release. 

“Fortunately, the farm environment is conducive to the most important safety practice recommendations of social distancing, face covering and frequent hand washing,” according to the release.

Chairs are used to keep six feet of separation where workers are taking breaks or eating meals. 

“At the end of the day, it’s a team effort to make sure everybody stays safe,” Ricky Moreno, employee safety manager for Mar Vista Berry, said in the release.

A workforce supporting safety practices and policies not only creates a safe work environment, but it also encourages food safety.

“The video features how strawberries are safely picked because they are field-packed, going from the strawberry plant, to the clamshell package, to consumers, while only being touched once,” according to the release.

D’Arrigo California

D’Arrigo Bros. of California, Salinas, is promoting the health benefits of broccoli rabe in the Boost Your Immunity campaign.

“Now more than ever, having an optimally functioning immune system is critical to one’s health and wellness,” Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, director of marketing at D’Arrigo California, said in a news release.

While hand washing, hand sanitizing and physical distancing are important, it’s also necessary to have a healthy diet and lifestyle, according to the release.

Broccoli rabe is “a nutrient-packed powerhouse veggie that will enhance your immune system,” Pizarro-Villalobos said in the release.

The vegetable can be blanched, steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted and pureed. 

“Keep your immunity and spirits up and do not let COVID-19 get you down,” according to the release. “Be sure to wash your hands, keep your distance, exercise and eat your fruits and veggies. Produce is not only safe to consume but essential to a healthy lifestyle — which is vital to everyday life now more than ever.”

To follow along with the Boost Your Immunity campaign, check out D’Arrigo California’s posts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. 

Revolution Farms

Revolution Farms, Caledonia Mich., is donating a package of lettuce to charitable organizations for every package sold at Michigan retailers.

The Buy One, Give One program lasts through June 12 at Meijer, SpartanNash (including Family Fare, VG’s Fresh Market, D&W and Forest Hills Foods) and independent supermarkets, according to a news release. Since March 1, Revolution Farms has donating more than 3,300 pounds of lettuces to Kentwood Public Schools, Baxter Community Center, Feeding America West Michigan and local hospitals.

“We’re so thankful for the donations of fresh local lettuce from Revolution Farms, as most of the food we are sending home is packaged, shelf-stable meal items as opposed to freshly picked veggies,” Todd Bell, Kentwood Public Schools executive director of finance and business operations. “The nearly 1,000 families in our district who come to pick up the bags each week are thrilled to be able to make fresh salads for their families.”

The company’s 1-acre operation began harvest in late 2018.

“With so much disruption to jobs, school and normal routines, now more than ever, we need to come together as a community, support our friends and neighbors, and help restore some normalcy, so that everyone has access to healthy food,” John Green, co-founder and CEO of Revolution Farms, said in the release.

Robinson Fresh/Hy-Vee

Robinson Fresh, Eden Prairie, Minn., donated more than 50,000 mangoes to families in need.

The mangoes were distributed at seven Hy-Vee stores in Iowa throughout May: Chariton, Cherokee, Denison, Marshalltown, Muscatine, Perry and Storm Lake, according to a news release. The stores established a drive-through format and gave visitors 12 fresh mangoes in each bag to visitors, according to a news release.

“During these extraordinary times, we want to help where we can,” Michael Castagnetto, president of Robinson Fresh, said in the release. “We had high-quality, fresh mangos available, and we couldn’t ask for a better ally to help get the fruit into the hands of families in need.” 

The mango giveaway is one of a series of donations from the West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, to charities in the eight-state region in which it does business.

“We deeply appreciate Robinson Fresh’s generosity and their assistance in helping us care for our customers and our communities during this time,” Tina Potthoff, Hy-Vee’s senior vice president of communications, said in the release. “We hope this donation provides some relief to our customers, especially as more families become financially impacted during this time.” 

To see how the pandemic is affecting other fresh produce companies, see The Packer's COVID-19 webpage.

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