When the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB), part of Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks, compared the foods they were distributing to the US Department of Agriculture’s ChooseMyPlate recommendations, they realized that they were not able to get enough milk to the people who need it. Milk is one of the top items requested at food banks, but due to its short shelf life and challenges such as access to refrigeration and distribution, it is rarely donated.
So in October 2012, the NIFB launched its Milk2MyPlate program. The food bank entered into a partnership regionally with Prairie Farms Dairy to deliver gallons of 1 percent milk directly to participating food pantries, cutting down on transportation and inventory time at the NIFB.
Now forty-one community food pantries participate in NIFB’s Milk2MyPlate program, distributing more than 15,000 gallons of fresh milk every month to families in need. And in December 2015, NIFB distributed its 5 millionth serving of milk to its hungry neighbors! More food banks are piloting the Milk2MyPlate model in order to provide nutrient-rich milk to their clients, but there’s still so much more to do. Help get milk to families in need by donating milk to the Great American Milk Drive.