(Sept. 12, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) Fundraising for the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent has surpassed $3 million.

PMA, Newark, Del., launched the foundation’s capital campaign in June 2006 with a goal of raising $5 million to fund programs intended to attract and develop talent for the industry.

PMA said in a news release that 50 contributors have pledged a total of $3,165,000. The initial fund raising effort will continue through April 2009.

The foundation operates a job bank for entry- and intermediate-level positions, an awareness campaign to attract students to the industry and mentoring and scholarship programs.

Steve Barnard, chairman of the board of PMA FIT and president and chief executive officer of Mission Produce Inc. Oxnard, Calif., said in a news release that he was pleased the foundation had passed the $3 million mark.

“We have a real talent crisis ahead of us and we need to ensure strong talent and continued leadership for our industry,” he said. “The foundation’s recruitment and retention initiatives hinge on the success of this fundraising campaign, and we are making great strides in reaching our goal.”

PMA FIT executive director Cindy Seel said in the release that the Pack Family/PMA Career Pathways Fund, an event scholarship and student immersion program, has brought 113 students to PMA’s Fresh Summit in the past last five years.

Seel said 31 of the program’s 61 graduates have accepted positions with member companies.