Saint Paul, Minn. – On behalf of 6,500 dairy farm families across the Midwest, Midwest Dairy announced they will donate $500,000 to food banks in the Midwest to purchase dairy products for people who are in need. The contributions will be spread across the 10 states Midwest Dairy represents, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, to help meet the increased demand for dairy products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food banks across the region have been seeing unprecedented need in recent weeks, setting records of daily and weekly food distribution and showcasing the urgency of finding resourceful ways to provide more food to those experiencing food insecurity. With unemployment numbers still climbing and schools – where many children receive the majority of their daily meals – continuing to be closed, the demand is expected to continue growing.
“Dairy farmers work tirelessly day in and day out to help feed the world, so this tremendous contribution puts our values in action to help our hungry neighbors,” said Allen Merrill, Midwest Dairy Corporate board chairman and a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota. “As a farmer and Midwest Dairy leader, I am proud of our work to make this donation possible to provide dairy products to people who otherwise may not have access to these nutrients during this challenging time.”
Though dairy checkoff funds cannot typically be used to purchase dairy products, the USDA has granted a one-time exception at the request of Midwest Dairy to help meet this need and get dairy into the hands of people who are food insecure. Midwest Dairy is partnering with dairy processors to determine what products they have available and then will provide a list of interested processors to food banks that have both a need and the capacity to increase their dairy inventory and distribution.
“During this extraordinarily challenging time, food banks throughout the Midwest, including the eight Feeding America food banks and their local networks of community agencies that serve Illinois, are working relentlessly to ensure that nobody in local communities goes hungry,” said Steve Ericson, executive director for Feeding Illinois. “The need for nutritious foods, such as dairy, is growing exponentially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. Thank you to Midwest Dairy and dairy farmers for leading this effort to access additional dairy products to help residents in need across our state and region. This donation will make an immediate impact.”
This program also offers processors an opportunity to keep their supply chains active while navigating dairy demand shifts due to recent school, restaurant and other business closures. The following cooperatives and processors have been invited to participate in the program: Agropur, AMPI, Anderson Erickson Dairy, Bel Brands, Bongards, Cass Clay, Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods, First District Association, Hiland, KanPak, Kemps, Land O’Lakes, Midwest Dairymen, Plainview Milk Products/Hastings, Prairie Farms, Valley Queen and Wapsie Valley.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to partner with Midwest Dairy and interested regional food banks to bring dairy products to people in need throughout our communities,” said Steve Schlangen, chairman of the board of directors for dairy farmer-owned processing cooperative Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) of New Ulm, Minn., and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn. “This effort helps ensure the milk dairy farmers work so hard to produce continues to move through the supply chain and into the hands of those who need it.”
For more information, please visit www.midwestdairy.com.