CHICAGO -- The food industry continued its 20-year history of supporting the antihunger charity Second Harvest with a donation of 14 truckloads of grocery items last week during the Food Marketing Institute's annual convention here.
Christina Vladimiroff, president and chief executive officer of Second Harvest here, called the donation "a harvest of compassion."
In an interview with SN, Vladimiroff said the donation comes at a "very critical" time of year, when children are leaving schools for the summer.
"A lot of children have school lunch," she said. "But come June, they will be out of school for the whole summer.
"People need to eat every day," she added. "Hunger does not take a vacation."
Although the 15 donor companies are among the nation's largest food retailers and manufacturers, Vladimiroff said smaller companies can make, and have made, a difference in their own communities.
Over the past two decades, the food industry has contributed its knowledge of food safety and logistics to Second Harvest, in addition to food, she said.
The massive donation came about six weeks after Second Harvest released a survey on the extent of hunger in America.
Timothy M. Hammonds, the FMI president and chief executive officer, told SN that the food industry as a whole has had a long history of supporting antihunger efforts, especially in its own communities. Hammonds said exhibitors at last week's convention would donate their unused samples to Chicago-area food banks "to make sure that nothing gets wasted."
Last week's donation added up to 571,000 pounds of food and nonfood grocery items, earmarked for emergency food centers in Montana, Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, Iowa, New York, Minnesota, Florida and California.
Among the donations were more than 112,000 boxes of cereal, 24,312 cans of biscuits and 3,360 cans of tuna, officials said. Nonfood items included cleaning supplies, toilet tissue, shampoo and diapers.
Donor companies recognized at last week's ceremony were Albertson's, Hunt-Wesson, Kellogg, Nabisco, Procter & Gamble, S.C. Johnson & Son, Stop & Shop Cos., Uncle Ben's, General Mills, Jewel-Osco, Kraft Foods, Pillsbury, Ralston Foods, Safeway and Tyson Foods.
"Hunger is a responsibility of all of us," said Mary Sophos, senior vice president of the Washington-based Grocery Manufacturers of America. "We all can and must do our part."