Dairy Farmers of America help food banks meet extraordinary need.
The offering comes as dairy farmers nationwide struggle with a decline in the commercial dairy market precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. With schools and businesses closed, demand for milk and dairy products has decreased, leaving farmers without buyers for their supply. Instead of discarding the extra milk and cheese they have on hand, DFA farmers are helping meet the need of Michigan households who are struggling to make ends meet and put nutritious food on their tables.
“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 Jerry Neyer, a dairy farmer from Shepherd. “Food banks are always in need of dairy foods, 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.”
The food banks will have minor costs associated with distributing these items. The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) has provided funding to food banks to help them offset these costs.
This is an example of the partnership that UDIM has grown over the past five years with Michigan food banks. This partnership has helped change the landscape of how milk is distributed and increased the amount of milk available to food bank clients. There has been dramatic growth in milk purchased by these food banks due to improved nutrition education, efficiency in transportation operations, new coolers at food pantries and more streamlined milk purchasing processes.
“Creating relationships with food banks builds trust that Michigan’s dairy farmers are great partners in providing high quality milk. It helps food banks see dairy’s value and encourages them to invest in distributing milk, allowing UDIM to have further conversations about building infrastructure within their network,” said Cortney A-Boes Freeland, Manager, Education and Community Partnerships at UDIM. “That infrastructure creates more places for milk to go, generates more demand for dairy and puts more milk in customers’ hands.”