As part of Hunger Action Month this September and with the increased demand for food assistance due to COVID-19, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) announced an expanded commitment designed to make a lasting impact in the fight against hunger. Through the DFA Cares Farmers Feeding Families Fund, the dairy cooperative’s 13,000 family farm-owners are donating much-needed refrigeration to rural and community food banks across the country and pledging to keep them stocked with dairy products for the remainder of the year.
“When we launched the Farmers Feeding Families Fund in April, we started working with rural and community food banks, and quickly realized that a lot of these smaller facilities had very limited cold storage, or in some cases, were completely lacking it,” said Jackie Klippenstein, senior vice president of government, industry and community relations for Kansas City, Kan.-based DFA. “Access to refrigeration is one of the largest challenges for food banks to keep fresh foods like dairy on hand. Once we saw this was a need, we felt compelled to step up and help provide long-term infrastructure improvements to ensure food banks have refrigeration, so that they can offer dairy products to the hungry families that they serve.”
Through the creation of the Farmers Feeding Families Fund, which the cooperative created in late April of this year, DFA and its farm family-owners, along with its dedicated essential workers, have been raising money to help provide support and deliver dairy products to community food banks across the country. Recently, one of DFA’s key partners, Leprino Foods Co. of Denver, Colo., also decided to get involved by making a generous contribution of $100,000 to the Farmers Feeding Families Fund, DFA said.
“Leprino Foods Company’s global responsibility efforts have consistently focused on addressing the local needs of our communities, with a particular emphasis on nutrition,” said Mike Durkin, president of Leprino Foods. “Through this $100,000 donation, we are proud to join with our long-time partner, Dairy Farmers of America, in expanding efforts to reduce food insecurity and addressing the nutritional needs of our neighbors. We are proud to be part of an industry that cares so much about helping individuals and families in need.”
To date, the Farmers Feeding Families Fund has raised more than $650,000 and distributed more than $225,000 to rural and community food banks, where DFA’s farm family-owners live and work, with more to come, DFA said.
“This fund was born when one of our farmer-owners came to us and, recognizing the increased need at food banks due to COVID-19, wanted to help out,” said Klippenstein. “Now, it’s really taken off with continued support from our farm families, DFA employees and the partnership of companies that we work with like Leprino Foods.”
Since early April, DFA said it also has been working with industry leaders and milk processors across the country to coordinate drive-by milk giveaways and product donations directly to food banks. A few highlights include:
- Providing more than 250,000 gallons of milk at 60-plus drive-by milk giveaways throughout the Northeast.
- Donating $10,000 worth of milk to Rhode Island schools through Guida’s Dairy.
- Working with Kroger to donate more than 90,000 gallons of milk to food banks and health care workers in Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia.
- Partnering with Daisy Brand to donate 120,000 pounds of cottage cheese to food banks in Akron and Cleveland over a six-week period.
- Donating 250,000 Kemps Giving Cow shelf-stable milks to food banks in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa.
- Working with Dairy West to donate 9,775 pounds of cheese curds to Salt Lake City-area food banks.
- Providing more than 12,000 gallons of milk to food banks throughout Southern California.
“Through these initiatives and others, we’ve donated nearly 15 million servings of dairy, but we know there’s still a huge need, which is why we’re proud to launch this refrigeration program and continue our efforts of getting food from our farms to families who need it,” added Klippenstein.
For more information about DFA’s Farmers Feeding Families Fund or to make a donation, go to dfamilk.com/our-commitment/dfa-cares.