My daughter is a third grade teacher in Raleigh, N.C. Her school, like most others across the country, was forced to close amid the coronavirus pandemic. My daughter had to embrace new technologies in an effort to teach remotely, while her 8- and 9-year-old students had to adjust to the decidedly less-structured brave new world of learning from home. The process wasn’t easy for either side, I’m sure.

With only weeks to go in the school year, my daughter’s room parents came up with a wonderful idea: a drive-by parade to honor her. The students’ parents decorated their cars with posters and balloons, gathered up their children and made a slow drive by her home, honking and waving the whole time. A tailgate lunch, with social distancing enforced for all, followed.

What a wonderful way to make lemonade out of crisis-grown lemons. The event not only brightened up my daughter’s day, but also provided a much needed end-of-the-school-year celebration for the students.


Making the best of it

Schools are not alone, of course, when it comes to suffering major coronavirus-related challenges — a wide range of industries have been singing the COVID-19 blues. And as I wrote in my May column, parts of the dairy processing industry have been hit particularly hard.

But many dairy processors have shown that they also are willing to make lemonade out of crisis-grown lemons. For some of these processors, that means finding a home, via donations, for milk that might otherwise be dumped.

For example, The Kroger Co. expanded its Dairy Rescue Program to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic through the summer months. In partnership with its dairy cooperative suppliers and farmers across the Midwest and South, Kroger says it will process and donate about 200,000 gallons of additional milk to Feeding America food banks and community organizations through the end of August, uplifting its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative.

And the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, in collaboration with Vermont Community Foundation, is coordinating an effort to recover raw milk from being disposed while creating a new, temporary food supply for the Vermont Foodbank. Joining in this effort are Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Commonwealth Dairy LLC (producer of Green Mountain Creamery yogurt) and HP Hood.

DFA family farms will be providing the milk to Green Mountain Creamery and HP Hood. The milk will be processed by these Vermont dairy producers for a donation of 42,000 cups of yogurt and more than 11,500 gallons of 2% milk to the Vermont Foodbank, Green Mountain Creamery says.

But the lemonade-from-lemons scenario has not been limited to product-donation partnerships. Some dairy companies have found ways to shift production from areas negatively impacted by the pandemic to those with a sunnier near-term outlook. For example, in Canada, Saputo Inc. moved production away from its industrial and foodservice plants into its retail facilities to reflect current market realities, Canadian Grocer reports.

Some marketing promotions, too, reflect the lemonade-from-lemons attitude. Case in point: Two Danone North America brands launched campaigns designed to celebrate moms during a Mother’s Day that took place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Horizon Organic brand partnered with one of its customers, Noodles & Co., to support free delivery from any Noodles & Co. location on Mother’s Day. And the Activia brand partnered with Bachelor alum Jade Roper for an Instagram giveaway, gifting more than $22,000 to American moms to cover their next round of groceries.


A Dairy Foods announcement

For Dairy Foods and other BNP Media publications, the coronavirus crisis also prompted a fast-forwarding of an existing plan to move away from print to a digital-only format. Beginning with the August issue, our monthly issues will go all-digital — the safest, quickest and cleanest way to deliver content.

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