On behalf of 6,500 dairy farm families across the Midwest, St. Paul, Minn.-headquartered Midwest Dairy said it is donating $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, Midwest Dairy said. 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.
Although 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 said it 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.
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. Midwest Dairy said the following cooperatives and processors were invited to participate in the program: Agropur, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (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, a dairy farmer and chairman of the board of directors for AMPI, a dairy cooperative based in New Ulm, 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.”