Several grower-packers have teamed with Sony Pictures Animation on a campaign that benefits a national hunger-relief charity and coincides with the filmmaker’s launch of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”

Fresh produce turns to ‘Meatballs’ for promotionsAs part of the arrangement, Culver City, Calif.-based Sony Pictures will make a cash donation to the Chicago-based Feeding America, according to a news release.

In addition, participating grower-shippers — California Giant Berry Farms, Cal-Organic Farms, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Grimmway Farms and the National Watermelon Promotion Board — plan to donate more than 80,000 pounds of produce to the charity’s nationwide network of food banks.

Consumers can scan quick-response codes on produce packaging from participating firms, directing shoppers to a website. There they’ll find recipes, information about the film and how they can donate to Feeding America.

The effort kicks off in July and ends in September, which is Hunger Action Month. The movie is set to premiere Sept. 27.

Sony Pictures contacted Watsonville, Calif.-based Cal Giant about participating partly because it sponsors a cycling team and promotes healthful activities, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director.

Fresh produce turns to ‘Meatballs’ for promotionsIn addition, one of the movie characters is a strawberry.

The partnership also fits Cal Giant’s philosophy about giving back.

“Typically, most of our promotions always have some sort of cause as a marketing component,” she said. “We’re excited to join in this national campaign to really support (Feeding America) and we they’re trying to do.”

Jewell said she already had viewed some of the movie trailers and believed it was a great opportunity to promote the industry’s message that eating fresh produce is fun.

“What a better way to help consumption than to tie in with Sony and a movie with food as heroes,” Jewell said. “It’s really a great animated movie. It’s a great way to enjoy a family movie and have a positive message about fresh produce and also do something good for people in need.”

Fresh produce turns to ‘Meatballs’ for promotionsSony Pictures also contacted Bakersfield, Calif.-based Grimmway Farms and its Cal-Organic Farms, about participating.

“We feel between us and our partners that this is just a great way to promote Feeding America,” said Bob Borda, vice president of marketing. “It’s a strong cause to promote and help those in need.”

Teaming with a movie studio is new territory for the carrot operation, but he said Grimmway had no hesitation about participating.

“As part of our marketing plan, we have an area for a cause marketing promotion,” Borda said. “We were looking for a good cause to participate in, and this was a good fit. It has strong public relations outreach to consumers, and it really promotes what we’re doing as an industry and what we’re doing as Grimmway-Cal-Organic Farms.”

The movie also carries an underlying message to children and their parents that fresh fruits and vegetables are a good alternative for snacks, he said.