On behalf of 6,500 dairy farm families across the Midwest, Midwest Dairy announced they will donate $500,000 to food banks in the Midwest to purchase dairy products for people who are in need. The contributions will be spread across the 10 states Midwest Dairy represents, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, to help meet the increased demand for dairy products during the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this generous donation, the Wapsie Valley Creamery in Independence, IA, is contributing another $1,000 in funds to their local Northeast Iowa Food Bank.
Food banks across the region have been seeing unprecedented need in recent weeks, setting records of daily and weekly food distribution and showcasing the urgency of finding resourceful ways to provide more food to those experiencing food insecurity. With unemployment numbers still climbing and schools – where many children receive the majority of their daily meals – continuing to be closed, the demand is expected to continue growing.
“Dairy farmers work tirelessly day in and day out to help feed the world, so this tremendous contribution puts our values in action to help our hungry neighbors,” said Allen Merrill, Midwest Dairy Corporate board chairman and a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota. “As a farmer and Midwest Dairy leader, I am proud of our work to make this donation possible to provide dairy products to people who otherwise may not have access to these nutrients during this challenging time.”
Though dairy checkoff funds are not typically be used to purchase dairy products, the USDA approved a proposal at the request of Midwest Dairy to help meet this need and get dairy into the hands of people who are food insecure. Midwest Dairy is partnering with dairy processors to determine what products they have available and then will provide a list of interested processors to food banks that have both a need and the capacity to increase their dairy inventory and distribution.
“The need for resources is growing exponentially as schools are closed and workers continue to see hours slashed or are without work,” said Michelle Book, president and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. “Dairy is wholesome, nutritious and considered a staple in many diets, and we are thrilled to be able to provide dairy products to our neighbors in need. The generosity of Midwest Dairy and dairy farmers will have an immediate impact on our work to make sure those in need have access to quality, nutritious food.”
This program also offers processors an opportunity to keep their supply chains active while navigating dairy demand shifts due to recent school, restaurant and other business closures. The following cooperatives and processors have been invited to participate in the program: Agropur, AMPI, Anderson Erickson Dairy, Bel Brands, Bongards, Cass Clay, Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods, First District Association, Hiland, KanPak, Kemps, Land O’Lakes, Midwest Dairymen, Plainview Milk Products/Hastings, Prairie Farms, Valley Queen and Wapsie Valley.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to partner with Midwest Dairy and interested regional food banks to bring dairy products to people in need throughout our communities,” said Steve Schlangen, chairman of the board of directors for dairy farmer-owned processing cooperative Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) of New Ulm, Minn., and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn. “This effort helps ensure the milk dairy farmers work so hard to produce continues to move through the supply chain and into the hands of those who need it.”
For more information, please visit www.midwestdairy.com.
About Midwest Dairy
Midwest Dairy® represents 6,500 dairy farm families and works on their behalf to build dairy demand by inspiring consumer confidence in our products and production practices. We are committed to Bringing Dairy to Life! by Giving Consumers an Excellent Dairy Experience and are funded by farmers across a 10-state region, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. For more information, visit MidwestDairy.com. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook at Midwest Dairy. For relevant conversations about issues and trends in the dairy community, listen to Dairy on the Air.
About Food Bank of Iowa
Food Bank of Iowa provides over 1 million pounds of food each month to help food insecure Iowans in 55 counties. Through key relationships with corporations, the Department of Agriculture and Feeding America, Food Bank of Iowa sources free and reduced-cost nutritious food, including meat and produce. The Food Bank keeps the food safe and delivers it to more than 600 community partner agencies—including schools, pantries, shelters, daycares and halfway homes—who distribute the food to seniors, children, veterans and hard-working parents who need food assistance across the organization’s 30,000 square mile service area. To learn more, visit www.foodbankiowa.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/foodbankiowa.