While dairy is one of the most requested items by food-insecure families, fresh milk is usually scarce at food banks because many centers simply don’t have the facilities to store perishable goods.
However, Dairy Max, a nonprofit dairy council made up of 900 dairy farm families across an eight-state region, and Seattle-based Convoy, a digital freight network, are teaming up to deliver thousands of gallons of fresh milk to food banks in Texas.
The goal is to expand the pilot program to mass distribution sites in other states including Louisiana, Colorado, Wyoming and Oklahoma with Dairy Max connecting local dairy processors participating in the USDA milk donation programs with Feeding America food banks.
As schools closed and jobs were lost because of the coronavirus pandemic, Dairy Max members were concerned about how to continue to feed kids and families during this crisis, according to Jennie McDowell, director of business development of Dairy Max in Texas.
“Most families that use food banks receive an average of one gallon of milk per year, which is by no means enough to fulfill the nutritional guidelines that recommend three servings of dairy a day,” McDowell told FreightWaves. “You won’t find anyone more passionate and connected to their communities than the dairy farm families that are a part of Dairy Max.
Dairy farms had a surplus of milk as a result of restaurants and school closures and Dairy Max members were looking for a partner to help distribute the milk to mass distribution sites.
That’s where Convoy stepped up to help deliver the milk after announcing it was paying 100% of trucking costs for businesses wanting to donate to food banks across the country in mid-April. Convoy’s program taps into Feeding America’s network of 200 centralized food banks and 60,000 local soup kitchens and pantries nationwide.
Feeding America estimates that more than 54 million Americans are now food insecure as a result of the pandemic.
“In times of hardship, it’s important that we come together as a community,” Jennifer Wong, head of sustainability for Convoy, said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with Dairy Max and are fortunate that our strength driving efficiency in the supply chain, meshed with their ongoing efforts to ensure families have the milk and dairy products they need. We experienced first hand how good they are at what they do and look forward to scaling our collaboration to support more locations.”
In the past three weeks, McDowell said Convoy has distributed 26,000 gallons of milk, supplied by Borden Dairy, to mass distribution sites that are feeding thousands of people each day, including the State Fair of Texas grounds in Dallas and to stadium parking lots.
Another 20,000 gallons of milk are expected to be delivered to food banks next week, she said.
“Convoy has been incredibly gracious and jumped on this opportunity and has been really excited to be a part of it,” McDowell. “They have a network of drivers that have been able to get the milk to where it’s needed most.”