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CHICAGO -- Whole Foods Market has teamed up with a coalition of farmers, nonprofits, restaurants, and natural food cooperatives to assist organic and family farmers whose fields were damaged by violent late August storms in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"This flooding is a tragedy, not only for these farms, but for the country as a whole, since a large portion of organic production comes from these areas," said Bobby Turner, Midwest regional v.p. of purchasing for Whole Foods.
Twenty-six Whole Foods Market Midwest stores, located in the states of Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Michigan are donating $25,000, and matching up to an additional $10,000 in customer donations.
Working with the Sow the Seeds Fund and Sustain, Whole Foods is accepting customer donations in $2, $5 and $10 increments. Similar to its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the donation is added to a customer's bill, enabling customers to pay with credit and debit cards to encourage participation.
Due to USDA regulations and food safety concerns, Whole Foods had placed a temporary moratorium on products from all flooded farms. Within days, the retailer visited each affected farm to determine which of each farm's products are safe to sell, enabling all of the farms to continue selling at least a portion of their products as they continue to assess flood damage and initiate cleanup efforts.
Whole Foods stores in highly affected areas are enlisting team members to volunteer on local-area farms that need help with cleanup and harvesting.
Each store's prepared foods department is incorporating the farmers' products into recipes, since early harvest means the farmers have an abundance of foods that need to be sold quickly. Other stores within the region are planning a Community Support Day, where 5 percent of one day's net sales will be donated to the farms.
Whole Foods operates more than 270 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.