The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will purchase, for the first time ever, $50 million in pasteurized fluid milk to benefit Americans in need who do not have regular access to milk. The milk will be distributed through food assistance programs and food banks, such as those under Feeding America – the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. The USDA is expected to purchase between 12-15 million gallons of fat free, low-fat (1 percent), reduced-fat (2 percent) and whole milk as part of this nationwide initiative. According to the department, today’s announcement is not part of the funding allocated to support farmers and producers negatively impacted by unfair trade practices.
“As many as 41 million Americans, including nearly 13 million children, face hunger daily and are at risk of missing out on essential nutrients when they don’t have access to milk,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) president and CEO. “Simply having more milk available for those in need can make a positive impact on public health.”
According to Feeding America, the monetary “meal gap,” or the resources to purchase enough food to meet the needs of those who face hunger, is $21 billion a year. And while consumers are generous with canned foods and dry goods, food banks only provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person, per year.
“Milk is one of the most requested nutrition staples at food banks, yet it is rarely available,” said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at MilkPEP. “And as one out of two kids ages 9 and up are falling short on calcium, vitamin D and potassium – essential nutrients that milk provides – there is an even greater need to make sure milk is getting to children and families who need it most.”
HOW IT WORKS
Since 1935, the USDA has directly purchased farm goods (under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment) to encourage consumption of domestic agricultural products. Working with states to determine need, the department will work with states through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to provide the milk to programs and charities that assist struggling families.
MAKING AN IMPACT
“This purchase addresses one of our country’s significant challenges – hunger – and, at the same time, will have a positive impact on the dairy industry at a time of significant market uncertainty,” added Dykes. “The nation’s milk processors welcome the opportunity to provide nutritious milk, rich in calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are nutrients most often missing in kids’ diets.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs, generates more than $39 billion in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA is the umbrella organization for the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA).
IDFA’s members range from large multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers and companies that offer infant formula and a wide variety of milk-derived ingredients. IDFA can be found at www.IDFA.org.
MilkPEP, Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation's milk companies, who are committed to educating consumers about the many nutritious benefits of milk and ensuring all children have access to fresh, wholesome milk. The MilkPEP Board runs marketing programs, including Milk Life, a multi-faceted campaign highlighting the important role milk plays in helping families reach their full potential, Milk It! a campaign for kids built around their love of milk, and Built with Chocolate Milk, which inspires athletes to perform at their best and recover with lowfat chocolate milk. For more information, go to milklife.com and builtwithchocolatemilk.com.