(Sept. 23, 3:22 p.m.) Nearly 300 military families of marines and sailors will receive 15 pallets of fruits and vegetables, thanks to some of the state’s grower-shippers.

Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, plans to be on hand at the Sept. 25 event at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego.

“The first lady has been doing an event called ‘family day’ on bases to help the families of servicemen and women,” said Christy Porter, executive director of Coachella, Calif.-based Hidden Harvest, a nonprofit organization that gleans produce from growers’ fields to donate the food to agencies and food banks.

Porter said since there was no harvesting going on in the Coachella Valley she reached out to Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers through Mark Nickerson, board member of both organizations and partner in Prime Time International, Coachella.

Ken Gilliland, director of international trends and transportation for Western Growers, then began contacting grower-shippers.

“We were looking at maybe getting 10 pallets, and we ended up with 15, and several people asked if we wanted more,” he said. “Hidden Harvest was initially going to pick up the pallets, but we exceeded the capacity of the truck they had.”

Instead, Gilliland said the companies delivered the produce to five wholesalers in the Los Angeles and Riverside Sept. 23, where Hidden Harvest arranged to pick up the pallets. The produce will be taken to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

Companies that donated produce include:

  • Bonipak Produce Inc., Santa Maria, Calif. (broccoli and cauliflower);


  • Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, Calif. (tomatoes);


  • Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif. (strawberries);


  • Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., based in Oviedo, Fla. (celery);


  • Grimmway Farms, Bakersfield, Calif. (carrots);


  • HMC Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg (nectarines, peaches);


  • Prime Time International (bell peppers); and


  • Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield (plums).

“Family Day is truly about what we can do as a family to connect military families to services and resources that meet their unique needs and challenges — from giving out phone cards to connect service men and women with their loved ones, to free lunch, family products, fresh produce and informational resources to strengthen and uplift our military families,” Shriver said in a news release.