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Friday, Sep 22, 2017
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Does Publix throw away returned food and water? Maybe donate unused hurricane supplies instead

Now that the storm has passed, people may be inclined to return their food supplies back to the store.

However, it's important to keep in mind that Publix and other grocers will throw away perishable items. Perhaps a better alternative would be donating water and supplies to nonprofits.

"Any perishable product returns to our stores must be discarded," said Publix media and community relations manager Brian West. "But customers may donate directly to their local food banks."

However, rumors spreading via social media that Publix stores will throw away any food items that are returned are not true. Bottled water and other non-perishable items can go back on store shelves.

"When a non-perishable product is returned, our store associates assess the quality and return it to the shelf if it meets our standards," a Publix spokesperson said via the company's Facebook page.

A Metropolitan Ministries official said Tuesday it would welcome nonperishable donations, as well as breads, muffins and other such foods in packages that haven't been opened.

The need is great for those who find themselves without power. It'll open its outreach centers in Tampa and New Port Richey on Wednesday looking to help those in need, and its asking for donations of generators, flashlights, batteries for existing flashlights, nonperishables and bottled water.

At Metropolitan Ministries' New Port Richey location, maintenance is onsite to repair minor damages. A team is working there to see how it can serve Outreach clients with or without power beginning Wednesday.

"At our Tampa campus, we will be feeding our residents and local community with the help of Feeding America, Salvation Army, and community partnerships," said Justine Burke, MetMin's senior director of marketing of communications. "We will not be able to provide meals to off campus Meal Sites until power is restored."

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is working with corporate partners for donations, but said the best way individuals can help is through monetary donations. Dulcinea N. Kimrey, divisional communications director for the Army, said donations specifically earmarked "Hurricane Irma" will go directly to local efforts.

The organization's mobile kitchens are working directly with emergency operations centers in the state and will likely move into the area on Wednesday. It's a concerted effort to help assist first responders and survivors get back on their feet, and it has staff and volunteers coming from the Eastern Seaboard and as far away as Canada.

The easiest way people can give is by going to helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1-800-Sal-Army or text the word "Storm" to 51555. 

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