Plant City-based Wish Farms donated 241 pallets of strawberries to local food banks last month.

An international grower and year-round marketer of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms, is aiding local food banks and children in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need is urgent. We have seen double the amount of people we normally see since the crisis began,” said Mary Heysek, director of United Food Bank of Plant City.

In two weeks last month, Wish Farms donated 220,000 pounds of fresh strawberries (equivalent to 241 pallets on nine semi-trucks) to Feeding Tampa Bay; United Food Bank of Plant City; the senior veteran nursing home Operation Patriot; Forgotten Angels, a group that help foster children who have aged out of the system; Florida Baptist Children’s Home and Everyday Blessings in Plant City; the Brandon Kiwanis Club; and many more.

“Feeding America and Farm Share are large food banks that distribute to smaller organizations,” said Amber Maloney, Wish Farms’ director of marketing. “We partner with them to help move large quantities because they have the network and infrastructure to distribute the fruit quickly.”

In addition, the farms opened three fields so that volunteers from a local group could come and pick up to donate to their network of nonprofits.

“Our industry has been under pressure to keep produce flowing to consumers during this unprecedented time. Our team is working diligently to keep our retail customers stocked,” said Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms. “However, we can’t forget that many millions of Americans were already food-insecure before this crisis hit. We stand ready to support our food bank partners now and in the future, because everyone deserves to have access to healthy food.”

Founded in 1922, Wish Farms is a fourth-generation, family-operated company. As a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, it grows both conventional and organic varieties.

“We are definitely still supplying our local stores (Publix, Aldi, Costco, Walmart and others) with fresh berries,” said Nick Wishnatzki, Wish Farms’ marketing project manager. “At a time when a healthy diet is even more in focus than ever, we are proud to offer fresh berries to our neighbors.”

Through the Wish Farms Family Foundation, a portion of profits are regularly dedicated to their three pillars of giving: Food Insecurity, Community and Education.

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