Dairy donates time, money and food to the coronavirus pandemic

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

“In times like this, the resilience of the human spirit is more visible than ever. It’s incredibly uplifting to see so many businesses and individuals stepping up." Pic: Chobani
“In times like this, the resilience of the human spirit is more visible than ever. It’s incredibly uplifting to see so many businesses and individuals stepping up." Pic: Chobani

Related tags coronavirus COVID-19 Danone Danone North America Donation Yogurt Milk

The coronavirus is upending businesses and economies around the world, and the dairy sector isn't immune. While some aspects of the industry need stability and assistance, others are able to share their wealth and give back.

US dairy is coping with the effects of the current health crisis in different ways. Farmers and producers are coming together to share resources​ and maintain strict health standards, as well as looking to the government​ for help. We look at some of the positive initiatives that have emerged in the midst of the pandemic.

Danone offers $1.5m

Danone North America is one of the largest, mainstream dairy companies in the continent, with a wide brand portfolio of milk, yogurt, ice cream, dairy alternatives and more.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak has escalated into a global pandemic, many CPG brands have stepped up with food and cash donations to local communities. Danone NA is giving $1.2m to the cause, with an additional $300,000 worth of product donations.

The money will be used to purchase and deliver fresh and non-perishable food, pick up and distribute unused food from businesses or workplaces and mobilize volunteers. A portion of the money will support the New York-based City Harvest and Feeding Westchester organizations, and the Colorado-based Community Food Share and We Don’t Waste.

Danone NA has headquarter offices and large employee populations in these two states, and the money will also assist in communities in California, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Mariano Lozano, CEO of Danone NA, said in a statement posted to LinkedIn, “In times like this, the resilience of the human spirit is more visible than ever. It’s incredibly uplifting to see so many businesses and individuals stepping up to support employees, customers and communities.

“As a food and beverage company – one of our nation’s critical infrastructure industries – we’ve always believed we have an important responsibility to use our business as a force for good.”

Supplying food banks

The company has already donated $20,000 to a rapid response fund that will be used to provide emergency food services in Colorado. And they currently donate more than 1,000 gallons of Horizon Organic milk weekly to help Community Food Share serve local residents.

Kim Ruotsala, executive director of Community Food Share, said, “We are seeing a sharp increase in local need for food during this crisis. Last week when the schools closed statewide, we had our single highest distribution day ever at our ​[Colorado] facility, including many individuals and families who were visiting the food bank for the first time.”

Last week Danone NA donated approximately 50,000 cups of yogurt from its Activia, Two Good, Dannon, Oikos, and Light + Fit brands, and 56,000 Horizon Organic milk boxes to Feeding Westchester to support residents in New Rochelle, New York.

Judy Campisi, senior director of development for Feeding Westchester, said, “For many children across Westchester, no school means no food. With districts closed across the County, Feeding Westchester has led the charge to make sure students who rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch still have access to good, nutritious food.”

Chobani helps at home

Greek yogurt company Chobani has also announced several charitable initiatives in the wake of the coronavirus. They first donated more than 35,000 Chobani products to the hard-hit New Rochelle community in their home state of New York.

Through a partnership with the governor, Feeding America Westchester and the New York National Guard, Chobani distributed yogurt, oat beverages and dairy creamers to those in the containment area, and particularly those who count on the school system to feed their kids.

“New York is our home and now is the time for business to step and do what we can to help and support our neighbors,”​ said Peter McGuinness, president at Chobani.

With manufacturing plants in Twin Falls, Idaho and South Edmeston, New York, Chobani has coordinated much of its efforts in these areas. The company told DairyReporter that in Central New York they have donated time, money and products to the Unadilla Valley School District and the Roots & Wings Food Pantry.

Chobani has also donated to the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and the Chenango County Health Department. And in Norwich, New York, Chobani has assisted the school district, the police department and the Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.

In Idaho, Chobani is helping out the Twin Falls School District Food Pantries, Boys & Girls Club locations, Meals on Wheels and the Twin Falls Senior Center, the Valley House At-Risk Homeless Shelter, Heritage Academy, the South Central District Health Department, and the Riverside Hotel and Interfaith Shelter in Boise.

“It’s all about community, especially in times like this,”​ McGuinness said.

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