A settlement from an alleged price-fixing scheme among vitamin companies will help feed the needy this holiday season.
Three local hunger relief programs -- Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline and Second Harvest -- will each receive a check for nearly $190,000 from Attorney General Rob McKenna.
The money comes from a $25 million multi-state settlement with companies accused of banding together to fix prices on vitamins between 1988 and 2000, artificially raising prices on vitamin products sold worldwide. Many of the defendants also pled guilty to federal criminal charges.
The terms of the settlement required the money be used to improve the health of citizens of the state and/or or to further nutritional, dietary, or agricultural science.
Northwest Harvest Executive Director Shelley Rotondo said the money will be used to provide more than 860,00 meals.
It couldn't come at a better time. Demand for food from the food bank's clients is up 35 percent since the recession, Rotondo said.
McKenna and 21 other attorneys general reached the settlement in December 2009 but the plan required approval of the court before the states could receive the funds.
This is not the first time vitamin companies have been made to pay up over antitrust allegations.
In 2000, the state's attorney general and others reached a related $255 million settlement with other vitamin manufacturers. The money from that settlement was distributed to 29 charities.