Tackling Hunger for Hunger Action Month
Hunger Action Month highlights hunger issues many Americans face daily. According to Feeding America, clients are visiting food pantries more frequently than ever; in fact, for the majority of people seeking food assistance, pantries are now part of households’ long term strategies to supplement monthly shortfalls in food.
However, while fresh milk is one of the most highly desired food items requested by clients, it is one of the least donated products and has proven logistically challenging to deliver on a regular basis.
Today we honor those who are making a difference in the lives of men, women and children by making milk available with innovative and long-lasting solutions to this challenge.
The Kroger Co.: Company-wide milk drive campaign fights hunger around the country
The Feed a Childhood (formerly Pour It Forward) campaign was created by The Kroger Co., the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and Feeding America. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores spans many states with nearly two dozen retail banners. More than 2,400 Kroger retail locations invited customers to “give hope by the gallon” by donating $1, $3 or $5. The funds were turned into vouchers for a free gallon of milk which could be redeemed at any store in the Kroger family. The use of printed vouchers helped reduce potential food waste, and the vouchers were easy for local food banks to store and distribute. The program raised enough funds to provide more than 100,000 gallons of fresh milk to families.
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank: The first statewide charitable milk program
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank partnered with state agencies and local dairies to launch a fresh milk program, “Fill a Glass with Hope,” which now provides 5,000 quarts, or 20,000 servings, of milk per week to families in need. This year, the program is expanding to all eight of the Feeding Pennsylvania food banks, and it’s expected to provide more than 2 million servings of milk in 2016.
Northern Utah Milk Drive: Local “milk store” hosts annual event
Lee’s Marketplace, a neighborhood grocery with three locations in northern Utah, prides itself on providing its customers with a bright friendly shopping experience, and they are deeply committed to giving back to their community. Each year since 2014, they host a Great American Milk Drive event during Hunger Action Month so that their loyal customers can easily donate a gallon of milk to neighbors in need. To ensure freshness, the milk was delivered to Cache Community Food Pantry and Catholic Community Services as needed, rather than all at once. The drive was supported by Dairy Farmers of America as well as Gossner Foods, a local dairy processor who matched each donated gallon. With the match, 3,404 gallons of milk were donated in 2014 and 5,410 gallons were donated in 2015; we’ll see what 2016 will bring!
Northern Illinois Food Bank: A model for food banks around the country
Through the Milk2MyPlate program, which was formed through a partnership between Northern Illinois Food Bank and Prairie Farms Dairy, more than 15,000 gallons of milk are distributed to hungry families each month. The program solved distribution challenges by making it possible for food pantries to purchase milk directly from Prairie Farms. “We know milk is the top food source for calcium, vitamin D, potassium and other essential nutrients,” said Kelly Brasseur, Northern Illinois Food Bank’s registered dietitian. “One of our key priorities is to provide our neighbors in need with nutritious food like milk that may not be affordable for them. This way they can best maximize what limited budgets they have while still getting the nutrients they need to thrive and lead productive lives.”