"Dairy farmers want to get dairy foods into the homes of those who need them most," Kristi Spence, Dairy West's senior vice president of marketing, said.
"Much of our local dairy foods are used in restaurants, schools, and hotels, so current restrictions have caused a milk surplus. By working with community partners, dairy companies have devised a mutually beneficial solution that directs nearly 200,000 gallons of milk per week that would have otherwise been disposed."
Dairy processors are transforming the excess milk into cheese, butter, and other dairy foods instead of discarding it.
"In an unprecedented collaboration with dairy farmers, milk processors, and local community partners, we have generated a solution that will get significant quantities of dairy foods to those in need," Spence said.
Curds + Kindness will continue at least through the end of May for the nearly 5m residents of Idaho and Utah.
"We are constantly discussing solutions to help us all, and since agriculture – including dairy farming – is at the core of our region and local economies and provides sustenance for all of us, we will continue search for ways to provide relief throughout this crisis," she said.
"Through a collaboration with Idaho and Utah food banks and some local school districts, dairy foods will be made available at existing sites across the two states we serve."
Dairy West is a regional dairy promotion organization established in 2017 to represent dairy farmers, processors, and supply chain partners in Idaho and Utah. The organization raises awareness of the importance of dairy farming, promotes the health and nutritional benefits of dairy foods, and encourages global demand for Idaho, Utah, and Western US dairy foods through coordinated marketing and communications efforts, nutrition counseling, and research programs.
Vermont dairy farmers, dairy producers and The VT Community Foundation donate to Vermont Foodbank
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has coordinated an effort to recover raw milk from being disposed while creating a new, temporary food supply for the Vermont Foodbank.
In collaboration with the Vermont Community Foundation, $60,000 has been made available to purchase this milk for the benefit of Vermonters.
Joining in the effort are Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Commonwealth Dairy, LLC, producer of Green Mountain Creamery yogurt and HP Hood.
DFA farms will be providing the milk to Green Mountain Creamery and HP Hood. The milk will be processed by the 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.
The donation will serve hundreds of food bank clients over the course of the coming weeks, providing dairy products to the Vermont communities in need while preventing food waste. New England Dairy also provided support to bring these businesses together.
"Dairy is a huge part of our rural working landscape and economy—it is also a critical piece of 'who we are' as a state," Dan Smith, president and CEO of The Vermont Community Foundation, said.
"To be able to respond to a need for milk distribution and help feed Vermonters who are struggling are exactly the type of reasons we created the VT COVID-19 Response Fund, and we're thrilled to work with such stand-up organizations."
The Vermont Foodbank, which serves more than 153,000 individuals each year, said it has seen an increase of up to 100% in demand since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The coronavirus pandemic has led to a drastic increase in the number of people in need of help accessing food," said Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles.
"When people are laid off or losing work hours with businesses shut down, their food budgets are hit hard. Meeting the increasing need is an immense task, and we wouldn't stand a chance if not for creative efforts like this one that connect the resources available with the people who need them."
Esteve Torrens, CEO of Lactalis US Yogurt, which owns Commonwealth Dairy, said, "The support from the state of Vermont and DFA has been crucial in allowing our team to efficiently process a surplus of milk supply to provide yogurt to our communities in the area.
"With dairy farmers across the country struggling to redistribute their product, this collaboration is a win-win to curb unnecessary food waste and serve those in need."
Lynne Bohan, VP of government relations and public affairs at HP Hood, said, "We are proud to be working with DFA to support Vermont families in need. These unprecedented times have created new challenges that require creative solutions. We're glad that we're able to help solve a problem while giving back to our local community."