WI Butter Creamery Provides Essential Dairy Nutrition to 1,000 Children in Need

Grassland Dairy Products, Inc., the largest family owned butter creamery in the world, is providing essential dairy nutrition to an orphanage in Peru, located in South America. This past week a load of dried milk arrived at the orphanage that will be used as an ingredient in meals for the children.

Through a unique partnership Grassland Dairy Products, Inc., of Greenwood, Wis., has teamed up with the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse to help feed young people around the world. The Diocese's "Project Milk" is helping children get the nine essential nutrients that milk provides to help keep bones strong and bodies healthy. This effort is due in large to Grassland processing and shipping dried milk to the orphanage in Lurin, Peru, located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
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Jessica Mollison, the orphanage's development director knows firsthand the importance that Project Milk has for Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II, the Peru orphanage.

"Project Milk has been sending annually powdered milk to the orphanage and other nearby communities," Mollison says. "In the last two years alone, since Grassland has become a partner, the program has shipped more than 60,000 pounds of powdered milk to provide vital nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamin D to more than 1,000 children."

Project Milk started in 1984 with the two-fold purpose to provide milk to the children at the orphanage and the surrounding neighborhoods and to raise awareness of the economic difficulties of dairy farmers in Western Wisconsin. Since its inception, approximately $800,000 has been contributed to this cause and over 375 tons of dried milk has been shipped to Peru.

Grassland recently installed two state-of-the-art milk driers allowing the plant to dry 28,000 pounds of powder per hour or 4.7 million pounds weekly. The milk driers allow Grassland to get the most value from patron milk by drying down the milk into a powder used as a food and beverage ingredient.

"We can ship three times as much milk powder than liquid milk," says Grassland Vice President Trevor Wuethrich. "One can store powdered milk longer than any liquid product while still providing essential nutrients."
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The orphanage uses the dried milk as an ingredient mainly for breakfast. The children's favorite meal is creamy rice with milk and cinnamon.

"The kitchen also uses the dried milk to make nourishing meals including shredded chicken in a cheese sauce and soups," Mollison says. "All of these are really yummy and the children are most appreciative of a meal."

The Grassland and Project Milk partnership stems from a small town connection between Father Keith Kitzhaber and Dan Kitzhaber, brothers who grew up on a farm in the Greenwood area, and the Wuethrich family, which has owned and operated Grassland since 1904.

Father Kitzhaber videoed the children at Casa Hogar unloading Grassland's shipment of dried milk. "Grassland employees might go to a restaurant and see Grassland butter on the table, but when they got to see the orphans unloading the milk they produced that really brought full circle an emotional connection to the project," Wuethrich says.

For more information on Project Milk, contact the Diocese of La Crosse Office of Ministries and Social Concerns at 608.791.2667 or hhanson@dioceseoflacrosse.com.