It’s hard for dairy farmers to imagine not having fresh milk with every meal or whenever they want it. So, a few farmers took matters into their own hands in 2015 and joined forces with American Dairy Association North East, Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, and Feeding Pennsylvania to form Fill a Glass with Hope to help get milk onto as many tables as possible.
The campaign launched in central Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, and in 2016, it expanded to become the first statewide charitable fresh milk distribution program in the country. Food banks can purchase milk from local dairies at a reduced rate, which is further subsidized thanks to funds raised through grants, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. In Pennsylvania, each new year of donations kicks off at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January. Spearheaded by Feeding Pennsylvania and local food banks, the campaign raised $201,000 in donations to start 2023.
To date, Fill a Glass with Hope has distributed more than 34 million servings of fresh milk through a network of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and feeding programs.
In the past few years, ADA North East has also expanded Fill a Glass with Hope into New York and Maryland. Our retail team also works with several retail chains across our six-state region to promote the campaign. In June, during National Dairy Month, three major chains with 360 stores — Weis Markets, Safeway, and Price Chopper/Market 32 — are encouraging customers to round up their change at checkout to get milk to families in need.
On June 1, World Milk Day, we helped kick off Weis Markets’ month-long retail campaign. Dairy farmer Doug Sattazahn of Zahncroft Farm in Womelsdorf, Pa., spoke on behalf of all dairy farmers in our region, saying, “As a dairy farmer and father, I’m proud of the work Fill a Glass with Hope does to make sure children and families have access to milk, which is something we often take for granted.”
In May, we also partnered with Shoppers Food stores for a Mother’s Day promotion that raised more than $9,000 to help provide milk to families in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Over the past several years, county dairy promotion committees in Pennsylvania and New York have also raised Fill a Glass with Hope funds, totaling more than $105,000. Across our region last year, $731,004 was raised between corporate donations collected by Feeding Pennsylvania, local food banks, and ADA North East retail consumer donations. That’s 164,762 gallons of milk distributed to families in need!
“We’re so fortunate to help facilitate this program on behalf of our dairy farm families who work so hard to provide wholesome, nutritious milk for consumers, and especially for families in need,” said ADA North East CEO John Chrisman. “This program is successful because of the strong support we receive from all of our partners and generous donors.”
For more information about Fill a Glass with Hope, visit AmericanDairy.com.
Jean Kummer is the industry communications specialist for American Dairy Association North East.