(Sept. 7) America’s Second Harvest member food banks will be able to distribute an additional 2.3 million pounds of fresh produce this fall thanks to Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The retailer’s March fundraising drive, “Be a Part of the Solution to End Hunger” raised $3.7 million from customers and associates and was supplemented by a $5 million donation from the company.

Of the $8.7 million total given to the Chicago-based food bank network, $7.2 million is earmarked for nutritionally-dense foods including protein and fresh produce, said Kevin Thornton, Wal-Mart spokesman. The remaining $1.5 million is designated for a children’s weekend and school vacation feeding program.

“We know that hunger affects even the least likely victims,” Thornton said. “As is always the case with Wal-Mart, we thought that we would go above and beyond the normal so we thought that by making sure we designate the cash be used for nutritious and protein-rich food we could really make a difference.”

Rick Bella, national produce manager for the food bank, said the money has been distributed to member food banks. Each food bank was given a designated number of units to be used to purchase apples, potatoes, beef, turkey and fish sticks.

“I was very pleased personally to see that the fresh produce items were selected by many members,” he said. “So, 2.3 million pounds of fresh produce is being delivered that otherwise would not have happened.”

For apples and potatoes, each unit can be used to purchase two truckloads of potatoes packed to order by Houston-based Mountain King Potato Co. or one truckload of Washington or Michigan apples packed to order from participating growers.