Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) resumes in-person meetings with Iowa business leaders, several months after the coronavirus spread. She proceeds with her annual 99 County Tour, by first visiting Capital City Fruit, based out of Norwalk.
Capital City Fruit is “a grower, shipper, repacker, and supply chain resource of fresh produce.” A majority of their business is with restaurants, schools, and universities, all of which have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. “Half of our revenue disappeared, when those institutions closed,” says Christian Comito, president and CEO of Capital City Fruit.
The company, however, remains afloat, due to assistance made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
“The Paycheck Protection Program allowed us to keep all of our employees, and not have to lay anyone off. Then through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, we had work for those people to do. Then they were helping all the others in need who maybe weren’t fortunate enough to keep their job through all of this,” Comito said.
Capital City Fruit packages 10,000 food boxes each week. Each box contains a variety of fruits and vegetables, designed to sustain a family of four over the course of a week. Once packaged, the food boxes are then passed onto 25 food banks and charities, who distribute them.
Senator Ernst remains “grateful” for companies like Capital City Fruit, who have been able to quickly implement such programs. She values their feedback, in regards to federal programs designed to assist businesses during the pandemic.
“I’m grateful to have their feedback on these programs. We want to make sure that what we’re able to provide at the federal level is working. (We’re) getting feedback and understanding that this is a program that works (and) should there be a need, should continue in the future. If there are changes that need to be made, then we can implement change, so it not only works better for producers, but also end consumers,” Senator Ernst said.