At a time when many Americans are facing unprecedented hardships as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the family farm-owners and employees of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national dairy cooperative, are stepping up to provide nutritious dairy products to those in need. In addition to hosting events such as drive-by milk giveaways at schools and donating fluid milk directly to food banks, DFA has announced the launch of its Farmers Feeding Families Fund, which hopes to raise $500,000 for community food banks across the country. Initial seed money of $200,000 has already been raised through the Cooperative’s DFA Cares Foundation.
“As dairy farmers, we are proud of the role we play in feeding families, and in times like these, when so many are struggling, we feel passionately about doing all we can to help,” said Randy Mooney, a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Mo., and chairman of DFA’s board of directors. “Food banks are always in need of dairy products, which are less commonly donated because of how perishable they are. Initiatives like this that allow us to get our highly nutritious milk and dairy products into the hands of people who need them are essential right now. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
As demand for food assistance rises with the COVID-19 outbreak, Feeding America, with its more than 200 affiliates across the country, has projected a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months alone.
DFA has identified 30 communities across the country whose local food banks will receive funds to purchase much-needed dairy products. In addition, DFA farmer-owners are being asked to help identify additional rural communities in need of dairy products for distribution.
“Hunger is a critical, ongoing need throughout America,” said Jackie Klippenstein, DFA senior vice president of government, industry and community relations. “In times of crisis, that need is even greater. Even in times of uncertainty and increasing challenges, our farm families and employees remain steadfast in their commitment to making an impact in the communities where we live and work.”
Making good use of surplus milk
Beyond the monetary donation to food banks, DFA is also working with industry leaders and milk processors across the country to come up with solutions and uses for surplus milk due to declines in foodservice demand as a result of COVID-19. A few examples include:
- Donating more than 9,500 half-gallons of milk to Connecticut Food Bank in conjunction with DFAowned Guida’s Dairy;
- Partnering with Daisy Brand to donate 120,000 lb. of cottage cheese over a six-week period to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and other local food banks throughout Ohio;
- Working with the American Dairy Association North East and local Dean Foods plants in New York and Pennsylvania to provide more than 36,000 half-gallon jugs of milk to City Harvest in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Share Food Program in Philadelphia, Pa., and Rolling Harvest in Highstown, N.J., and more than 4,000 gallon jugs to Corinth Central School District in Corinth, N.Y., and
- Coordinating with Dean Foods plants in Texas to donate milk to local food banks in the area.
More information and ways to contribute can be found at dfamilk.com/dfacares.