What a Difference a Year Makes

September 03, 2015

There’s a place where my personal and professional lives collide and that’s in the heartfelt belief that above all else, we have a moral obligation to feed our communities. That’s why I’m so passionate about the work dairy farmers are doing with Feeding America and the Great American Milk Drive. To think we can all make a difference, one gallon at a time, is powerful.

We’re making that difference through a partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. It began in June of 2014, when the nonprofit received a $10,000 grant from National Dairy Council. These funds helped purchase a refrigerated truck for their Retail Store Food Donation program. This truck allows the Food Bank to service more stores, which are an excellent source for a variety and large quantity of dairy donations on a regular basis.

During that same time period, the entire staff of American Dairy Association and Dairy Council (ADADC) celebrated June Dairy Month by spending an afternoon at the Regional Food Bank, sorting and packing 14 pallets of food. Here, the Food Bank’s Joanne Dwyer gives staff a tour before putting us to work.

In fall 2014, ADADC held a one-day promotion at three Hannaford Supermarkets in the Capital Region. In just four hours, our efforts generated nearly 500 gallons of milk – and, just as importantly, helped spread the word about the need for milk for the clients served by Feeding America Food Banks.

Most recently, ADADC helped bring The Great American Milk Drive to Price Chopper supermarkets. Headquartered in Schenectady, NY, the chain kicked off their participation by sending their Corporate Registered Dietitian Ellie Wilson and the Regional Food Bank’s Erin Prendergast on a Cow-to-Cup tour, featuring the Garelick Farms Plant and Mapledale Dairy Farm. Ellie captured her experience in a six part blog series – read it here.

Price Chopper’s drive ran May 31-June 27 in all of their 132 stores throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New England. The chain offered $2 and $4 vouchers for milk donation, and pledged to match up to $10,000. ADADC arranged for New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball to join the dairy princess to load the first donated gallons of milk onto a Garelick refrigerated truck.

Left to right: New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard A. Ball, Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York Director of Food Industry Relations Joanne Dwyer and Food Industry Relations Coordinator Erin Prendergast.

“With 23 counties in our service area and over 250,000 people served each year, milk is always in high demand,” said Joanne Dwyer, Director of Food Industry Relations & Business Development Representative for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. “The food industry is very supportive, but of all the perishable food categories we receive, milk is the least donated. Raising awareness and gaining access to the protein and nutrients in milk will have a major impact on the agencies we serve and their clients.”

We’ve certainly enjoyed our first year of our partnership with the Regional Food Bank, and know that with help from all of you, we’ll be able to boost those donation numbers and help get more milk to more families, in New York and throughout the country.