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Donate milk for Iowa families

Milk is one of the most commonly requested items at food banks. But typically, food banks can’t afford to stock their coolers with milk because it can be costly on a limited budget.

But thanks to the national Great American Milk Drive, more Iowans relying on their local food banks can stock their fridge with a gallon of milk.

Last year, U.S. milk companies and dairy farmers, in partnership with Feeding America, launched The Great American Milk Drive. By donating as little as $5 on the Milk Life website, Iowans can provide milk to local food pantries.

As of April 2015, more than 292,000 gallons of have been donated nationwide to hungry families in need. In Iowa, more than 4,800 gallons of milk have been donated to local food banks.

“On average, food banks are only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. That’s because while Americans are generous with canned and dry goods, many don’t think to donate milk, because it’s perishable,” said Victor Zaborsky, vice president of the Milk Processor Education Program.

“The need is especially important during the summer, when kids are missing out on nutritious meals provided through school breakfast and lunch programs. Millions of children miss out on milk’s nutrition in the summer months when schools are closed and they lose access to free or reduced-price milk programs.”
Pam Bolin, a dairy farmer and Farm Bureau member from Butler County, said she sees tremendous value in the program — not only as a dairy farmer — but also as a mom and grandmother.

“Kids need the minerals and nutrition found in milk, but many aren’t getting it,” she said. “When families get just one gallon each year, yet it’s so healthy for kids, we need to do something. This seems to be working, but we need to continue spreading the word.” 

Erin Thole, health and wellness program manager for the Midwest Dairy Association, said in Iowa, four out of five children are hungry and not everyone thinks of dairy to help out in that fight to decrease and eliminate childhood hunger.

“If a child consumes three servings per day of milk, their overall nutritional outlook for the day is much better and healthier than if the child consumed a cup of milk,” Thole said. “This program allows people to get the milk when they need it. They are given a voucher, and that can be redeemed at retailers for the milk and not worry about it expiring right away.”

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