In celebration of June Dairy Month, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) — a national cooperative owned by dairy farm families — and The Kroger Co. announced a year-long commitment to donate milk to Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Grove City, Ohio.
Through the partnership, DFA farm families from Ohio will provide raw milk, which will be processed at Tamarack Farms Dairy, Kroger’s Newark, Ohio dairy processing facility. It will then be distributed to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, which provides enough food for 140,000 meals a day in 20 counties through 680 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior housing sites across central and eastern Ohio. The donated milk will be delivered to the Foodbank daily through May 2020 and will total nearly 44,000 gallons, which equates to more than 700,000 eight-ounce servings.
“It’s been exciting to collaborate from farm-to-table on this partnership and provide farm-fresh milk to food insecure households across Ohio,” said Dana Zurcher, President, Kroger Columbus Division. “We think this is a model program and hope to expand and duplicate it in other areas where we have Kroger stores.”
Currently, nearly 1.7 million people in Ohio struggle with hunger and 510,000 are children. Nationally, according to FeedingAmerica.org, more than 46 million people, including 12 million children, turn to food banks each year for extra support.
“As a farmer, producing and providing quality food has always been a source of pride,” said Paul Haskins, a DFA member who farms with his parents Robert and Janice Haskins in Butler, Ohio. “So, it’s especially a privilege and an honor to support this effort and help provide milk to individuals and families in this region who are struggling with hunger.”
Food bank officials nationwide say milk is often requested but not always available due to its perishability.
“Milk is a highly requested item in our network, and we’re especially grateful to have milk right now during the summer months, when many children don’t have access to school-lunch programs,” said Matt Habash, President and CEO of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “This donation is particularly generous given our ‘food as health’ strategy to connect our customers to nutritious food.”
Last year, Mid-Ohio Foodbank distributed about 65 million pounds of food, half of which was fresh. Collaborations involving the farmers, private sector and nonprofits go a long way in building hunger-free, healthier communities.