Michigan apple industry donates apples for school children

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LANSING — Michigan’s apple industry will donate nearly 346,000 fresh apples and 726,000 sliced apple packages to feed school children who are currently out of school due to the COVID-19 crisis. MAC worked with apple shipping, processing and sales organizations across the state, along with the Food Bank Council of Michigan to coordinate delivery to school districts in Michigan.

“We know that with kids out of school during this crisis, they will need good nutrition with plenty of fruits and vegetables to help them stay healthy,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “The Michigan Apple industry is proud to provide Michigan Apples for kids who need them during this difficult time.”

More than three truckloads of Michigan grown apples will be distributed to school districts across the state, where food service workers continue to provide meals for children even though school is currently not in session. There are approximately 100,000 apples to a truckload.

“School closures due to COVID-19 have left nearly a million children without a consistent food source,” said Dr. Phil Knight, executive director, Food Bank Council of Michigan. “The generosity of the Michigan Apple industry during this crisis brings healthy food and hope to our youngest residents.”

Children will receive fresh apples of several different varieties, and some will receive packaged sliced apples. The goal of the industry is to provide as many apples as possible to kids who otherwise may not have access to nutritious foods, officials said.

“The Michigan apple growers, shippers and other industry members are always willing to step up and do their part to contribute to those in need. It was just a matter of coordinating the logistics and working with our friends at the Food Bank Council to get this done. It’s important to all of us to be able to provide what we can to the people who need it,” Smith said.

Michigan apple shippers and processors donating product include Applewood Fresh Growers, of Sparta; BelleHarvest Sales, Inc./Michigan Fresh Marketing, of Belding and Comstock Park; Jack Brown Produce, Inc., of Sparta; North Bay Produce, Inc., of Traverse City; Peterson Farms, of Shelby; Rasch Brothers Apple Storage, of Grand Rapids; and Riveridge Produce Marketing, Inc., of Sparta.

In addition, three trucking companies donated services to this effort as well. SFL Companies, of Rochester generously donated their services completely free of charge. Burns Produce LLC, of Grandville and Destin Logistics LLC, of Coopersville, made partial trucking donations, with Michigan Apple Committee covering the remainder of the costs.

“The Michigan Department of Education wants to thank the Michigan apple industry for this incredible donation to our state food banks,” said Diane Golzynski, director of MDES’ Office of Health and Nutrition Services. “During times of crisis, the need to provide fresh, healthy food to our residents increases, and it is partners like our food banks and the Michigan Apple industry that help to get it done.”

Michigan apple growers harvest approximately 25 million bushels of apples each year. There are more than 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.

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