America’s dairy community – farmers, processors and other dairy organizations – is joining forces with Feeding America to address food and nutrition instability and child hunger, issues that are increasingly prevalent in summer months.
One in six children in the U.S. faces hunger. The problem is compounded in the summertime when more than 18 million children may lose access to free or reduced-price school meal programs. And while some programs like the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program help deliver meals when school is not in session, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program don’t reach kids during the summer months.
That’s why food banks play an even more critical role in helping children access nutrient-rich foods like dairy when school isn’t in session. As the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America and its network of food banks provided 10 million meals through nearly 6,000 meal sites last summer.
The dairy community, along with Feeding America, will celebrate National Dairy Month by rallying consumers across the country to get nutritious food to families who need it. At the national level, a three-vehicle convoy will embark on a cross-country tour in June and July to provide kids with free nutritious milk and dairy foods at locations, including farmers markets, feeding sites and sporting events.
Community pop-up events replicating the convoy experience will also take place in markets coast to coast, from Hilmar, Calif., to New Gloucester, Maine.
“As farmers who produce quality milk and dairy foods for America, we believe that all families should have access to the nutritious foods they need,” said Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer, chair of Dairy Management Inc. and a member of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s board.
Over the last five years, the dairy community has helped secure more than 31 million servings of milk to children and families in need through The Great American Milk Drive and is committed to providing 50 million servings of milk to children and families in need by 2020. Through additional efforts including USDA trade mitigation and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, last year alone dairy farmers and companies contributed 686 million servings (or 275 million pounds) of nutritious milk, cheese and yogurt to the Feeding America network of food banks. But more is needed.
“One out of two kids in the U.S. don’t get critical nutrients in their diets that they need to grow strong – and their chances of missing out are even greater when they don’t have access to milk,” said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP). “As one of the most requested items at food banks, every gallon of milk donated can make a big impact in the fight against childhood hunger right in your community.”
People can take action against hunger and help increase access to nutrient-rich foods by donating milk at www.giveagallon.com. Even a small donation can make a big impact – for as little as $5, food banks can deliver fresh milk to children and families who need it most in their community.
“National Dairy Month is the perfect opportunity for the entire dairy community to tell their story when it comes to our joint commitment to nourish communities and the planet,” said Beth Engelmann, chief marketing officer of Dairy Management Inc.