Two truckloads of surplus milk donations arrived last week at Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County in southern California from an innovative dairy production facility in Kansas. As a differentiator and potential game changer for food banks facing intense demand and scarce freezer capacity for perishable donations, the shelf-stable, premium whole milk may feed food-insecure families immediately or up to nine months from now.
The milk donation originates from KanPak U.S., a dairy products subsidiary of Golden State Foods (GSF), one of the largest diversified suppliers to the foodservice and retail industries. KanPak's U.S. and China operations process more than 25 million gal. of dairy products each year, applying aseptic processing and packaging technology so the nutrient-rich milk lasts up to nine months and can be stored on shelves without refrigeration.
"I saw on TV that they were throwing milk away, and I thought that was crazy," said Larry McGill, GSF corporate vice president and KanPak U.S. chief executive officer. "I knew that there had to be something that we could do to help."
As dairy cows approached the height of their milk production season over the past two months of spring, farmers have had to dump excess milk due to rapid, unexpected changes in supply chain demand. Refusing to stand by while surplus food goes to waste and more people go hungry, GSF and KanPak quickly launched a surplus milk bottling initiative and drove remarkable speed to market in about a month's time.
“New product launches typically take at least three to four months, including regulatory approvals, package design and quality assurance protocols. From food manufacturing and distribution to nonprofit partnerships and vendor collaboration, KanPak has leveraged expertise, infrastructure and relationships from across the GSF family of companies and beyond to kick-start its surplus milk supply initiative,” the companies noted.
Utilizing readily available capacity on an existing bottling line installed in early 2019, KanPak's initial production run fast tracked 150,000 eight-ounce bottles of milk to market. Subsequent runs will potentially double that quantity to a total of 30,000 gal. of long-shelf-life milk, all to help alleviate hunger.
With transportation support from Centralized Freight Management (CFM), GSF's freight management company, about two-thirds of the first production run has shipped across the county to Second Harvest Food Bank's facility in Irvine, Cal., where GSF's global headquarters are located. Through the nonprofit GSF Foundation, two semi truckloads of donated milk will benefit the most vulnerable community members experiencing food insecurity amid escalating economic hardship.
"Second Harvest is incredibly proud and grateful for our partnership with GSF and KanPak," said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. "Their foresight and innovative mindset have brought aseptic whole milk -- which is like protein gold -- to our food bank and to the community of people we are humbled to serve."
In addition to Second Harvest, Kansas Food Bank will also receive a milk donation from the first production run as the first two of many community organizations KanPak said it hopes to support.