Dec. 18 2020 07:55 AM

Michigan dairy farmers supported food security, created virtual learning opportunities and connected with consumers online.

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Michigan’s dairy farmers, through the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), turned 2020’s challenges into an opportunity to support communities and connect with consumers. UDIM’s actions helped put essential dairy foods into the hands of those who needed it and also helped build stronger, virtual relationships with consumers.

“Michigan dairy farmers are passionate about providing nutritious dairy foods people enjoy, and they care deeply for their communities,” says Sharon Toth, CEO of UDIM. “This year dealt a unique set of circumstances to everyone, I’m proud that the UDIM team quickly got creative – finding ways to put dairy at the forefront and helping those throughout our state.”

Following is a brief recap of key 2020 accomplishments:

Supported Food Security

In Michigan, one in six people and one in five children experience food insecurity. Food banks and school lunch programs play an essential role in bridging this hunger gap, a role made even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help get milk into the hands of families who need it, dairy farmers:

  • Committed $375,000 to Michigan food banks allowing them to address urgent food distribution needs, purchase vehicles to increase dairy distribution capacity and complete critical repairs to refrigeration systems.
  • Partnered with Food Bank Council of Michigan and Dairy Farmers of America to distribute over 50,000 gallons of milk and 25,000 pounds of cheddar cheese through the food bank network.
  • Nominated Michigan food pantries to receive a refrigeration unit and delivered 36 milk coolers filled with dairy foods to local food pantries.
  • Awarded food service grants in support of 55 school districts and 99 schools. The grants supplied 1,320 cooler bags, plus rolling coolers and transit carts, to help get dairy nutrition into the hands of kids.
  • Raised over 1 million glasses of milk through shopper donations at one grocery chain.

Created Virtual Learning Opportunities

Travel and gathering restrictions meant students and teachers were unable to visit Michigan dairy farms. In-person training sessions were also impacted. To continue educating students, teachers and dairy farmers, UDIM developed a myriad of well-received virtual events, including:

Connected with Consumers Online

With consumers spending more time at home than ever before, 2020 allowed more opportunities to meet consumers in a digital space – both with dairy’s sustainability story and helpful dairy recipes and cooking tips. To meet consumers online, UDIM:

“Dairy plays an essential role in nourishing people, the planet and communities,” says Toth. “These activities are just a few of the many ways UDIM continues to engage with consumers and build trust in dairy foods and modern dairy farming and help grow sales in dairy foods.”

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About the United Dairy Industry of Michigan

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is dedicated to serving Michigan’s hard-working dairy farm families and promoting Michigan’s locally produced dairy products. UDIM is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education services on behalf of their funding members.