It’s June Dairy Month, and we need to tell dairy’s great story.

In early April, as the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S., demand for dairy was in the dumps. In many parts of the country it got so bad that dairy farmers began discarding milk that didn’t have a home.

What was the reason?

Though demand for dairy at retail was up, it couldn’t compensate for the decreased demand in food service and overseas purchases. As this all took place, unemployment was rising and food banks were seeing record numbers of patrons. It was frustrating to watch high-quality, nutritious milk being discarded when people were hungry. There had to be a way.

Dairy farmers rallied

In late April, Dairy West, the dairy promotion organization representing farmers in Idaho and Utah, quickly rallied an entire regional dairy community around a solution. Curds + Kindness is an initiative that took hold immediately and captured the attention and collaboration of processors throughout the region. The concept is simple — match milk that was destined to be discarded with excess processing capacity to produce and package products for personal consumption. Butter and cheese were being distributed within days through an existing network of feeding sites associated with local food banks and school districts.

The collaboration from farm to co-op to processor and the logistical and allied industry support has been incredible. To date, over 560,000 pounds of product has been donated since the end of April. As the supply chain begins to rebound, Dairy West plans to run this program in its current capacity through mid-June.

During June, as a tribute to National Dairy Month and farmers’ commitment to feeding communities and saying “thank you,” Curds + Kindness will go mobile. From June 1 through June 26, a Curds + Kindness branded food truck will be providing grilled cheese sandwiches and bags of cheese curds as a thank you to frontline workers across Idaho and Utah, visiting healthcare facilities, police stations, fulfillment centers, and more.

For more about the program and its collaborators, visit unbottled.com.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
June 1, 2020
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