Two truckloads of surplus milk donations arrived last week at Southern California's Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County from KanPak U.S.’s dairy production facility in Kansas. The shelf-stable premium whole milk may feed food-insecure families immediately or up to nine months from now, said Irvine, Calif.-based Golden State Foods (GSF), parent company of KanPak U.S., Wichita, Kan.
"I saw on TV that they were throwing milk away, and I thought that was crazy," said Larry McGill, corporate vice president, GSF and CEO, KanPak U.S. "I knew that there had to be something that we could do to help."
Just as dairy cows approached the height of their milk production season over the past two months of spring, farmers have dumped excess milk due to rapid, unexpected changes in supply chain demand. Refusing to stand by while surplus food goes to waste and more people go hungry, GSF and KanPak said they quickly launched a surplus milk bottling initiative and drove remarkable speed to market in about a month's time.
New product launches typically take at least three to four months, including regulatory approvals, package design and quality assurance protocols. From food manufacturing and distribution to nonprofit partnerships and vendor collaboration, KanPak leveraged expertise, infrastructure and relationships from across the GSF family of companies and beyond to kick-start its surplus milk supply initiative, GSF said.
Using readily available capacity on an existing bottling line installed in early 2019, KanPak's initial production run fast-tracked 150,000 8-ounce bottles of milk to market. Subsequent runs will potentially double that quantity to 30,000 total gallons of long-shelf-life milk, all to help alleviate hunger.
With transportation support from Centralized Freight Management (CFM), GSF’s freight management company, about two-thirds of the first production run has shipped across the county to Second Harvest Food Bank's facility in Irvine, the company noted. Through the nonprofit GSF Foundation, two semi-truck loads of donated milk will benefit the most vulnerable community members experiencing food insecurity amid escalating economic hardship.
"Second Harvest is incredibly proud and grateful for our partnership with GSF and KanPak," said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. "Their foresight and innovative mindset have brought aseptic whole milk, which is like protein gold, to our food bank and to the community of people we are humbled to serve."
Kansas Food Bank will also receive a milk donation from the first production run, as the first two of many community organizations that KanPak hopes to support. For hunger-relief efforts in rural communities, KanPak's individually bottled shelf-stable milk may be distributed unrefrigerated in handy six-pack quantities directly to those in need, GSF said.