In honor of National Dairy Month, America’s dairy community – farmers, processors and other dairy organizations – is building on its commitment to nourish people by joining forces with Feeding America to address food and nutrition instability and child hunger, issues that are increasingly prevalent in summer months.
One in six children in the U.S. faces hunger*. The problem is compounded in the summertime when more than 18 million children may lose access to free or reduced-price school meal programs and as a result, could miss out on dairy and other important nutrition. And while some programs like the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program help deliver meals when school is not in session, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program don’t reach kids during the summer months.
That’s why food banks play an even more critical role in helping children access nutrient-rich foods like dairy when school isn’t in session. As the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America and its network of food banks provided 10 million meals through nearly 6,000 meal sites last summer.
The dairy community, along with Feeding America, will be kicking off National Dairy Month by rallying consumers across the country to get nutritious food to families who need it. At the national level, a three-vehicle convoy will embark on a cross-country tour in June and July to provide kids with free nutritious milk and dairy foods at locations, including farmers markets, feeding sites and sporting events.
Community pop-up events replicating the convoy experience will also take place in markets coast to coast, from Hilmar, Calif., to New Gloucester, Maine.
“As farmers who produce quality milk and dairy foods for America, we believe that all families should have access to the nutritious foods they need,” said Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer, chair of Dairy Management Inc. and a member of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s board. “That’s why we’ve been committed to supporting youth wellness through programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 and founding organizations like GENYOUth, which deliver dairy nutrition and resources that create healthier school environments and increase access to healthy foods among students.”
Over the last five years, the dairy community has helped secure more than 31 million servings of milk to children and families in need through The Great American Milk Drive and is committed to providing 50 million servings of milk to children and families in need by 2020. Through additional efforts including USDA trade mitigation and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, last year alone dairy farmers and companies contributed 686 million servings (or 275 million pounds) of nutritious milk, cheese and yogurt to the Feeding America network of food banks. But more is needed.
“One out of two kids in the U.S. don’t get critical nutrients in their diets that they need to grow strong – and their chances of missing out are even greater when they don’t have access to milk,” said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP). “As one of the most requested items at food banks, every gallon of milk donated can make a big impact in the fight against childhood hunger right in your community.”
People can take action against hunger and help increase access to nutrient-rich foods by donating milk at www.giveagallon.com. Even a small donation can make a big impact – for as little as $5, food banks can deliver fresh milk to children and families who need it most in their community.
“National Dairy Month is the perfect opportunity for the entire dairy community to tell their story when it comes to our joint commitment to nourish communities and the planet,” said Beth Engelmann, chief marketing officer of Dairy Management Inc. “Undeniably Dairy and the partnerships we’ve created continue to serve as that unifying platform to bring farmers front and center during a time when consumers question where their food comes from, the impact it has on communities and the environment and importantly, the people who produce it. As we enter the third year of the Undeniably Dairy campaign, more than ever, we’re seeking to engage consumers in meaningful ways, while helping rekindle their love for dairy and trust in the industry.”
The National Dairy Month effort is supported by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its Undeniably Dairy campaign, as well as the Milk Processor Education Program’s (MilkPEP) Milk. Love What’s Real campaign, which is built on a core promise to inspire people to savor what’s real and what really matters. To learn more about the Undeniably Dairy and Milk. Love What’s Real campaigns, visit:
*Gundersen, C., A. Dewey, M. Kato, A. Crumbaugh & M. Strayer. Map the Meal Gap 2019: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2017. Feeding America, 2019.
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) is funded by America’s nearly 40,000 dairy farmers, as well as dairy importers. Created to help increase sales and demand for dairy products, DMI and its related organizations work to increase demand for dairy through research, education and innovation, and to maintain confidence in dairy foods, farms and businesses. DMI manages National Dairy Council and the American Dairy Association and founded the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum that brings together the dairy community to address the changing needs and expectations of consumers through a framework of shared best practices and accountability. Initiated in 2008 by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff, we collaborate on efforts that are important both to us and our valued customers – issues like animal care, food safety, nutrition and health, the environment and economics. The Innovation Center is committed to continuous improvement from farm to table, striving to ensure a socially responsible and economically viable dairy community.
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington D.C., is funded by the nation’s milk companies, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the Milk Life campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the powerful nutritional benefits of milk – with 9 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, in each 8-ounce glass. For more information, go to milklife.com. Campbell Ewald is creative agency for the Milk Life campaign – from America’s milk companies.