by Kelli Walker
Milk and cookies: one of my favorite treats year-round, but an especially pleasing prospect at the holidays, perhaps prompting thoughts of Santa Claus’ midnight snack or special holiday gatherings of grandparents and grandchildren. Milk also plays a starring role in many favorite holiday recipes.
Milk is scarce throughout the network of Feeding America food banks. It’s challenging to donate: milk is perishable, tricky to transport, deliver and store (if refrigeration capacity is limited). Milk can be expensive, although for the amount of protein, vitamins and nutrients that it supplies, milk by the glass is actually a good deal.
I used to think that increasing access to milk for our clients was a near impossibility, but one of the many reasons why I love working for Feeding America and #WhyIFeedAmerica is our team of innovative, thoughtful, problem-solving colleagues. Feeding America teamed with the dairy industry—which has been organized for close to one hundred years but serving communities for centuries—to create The Great American Milk Drive. We found an easy and highly efficient way for local communities to help put milk on the table and in the refrigerators of their neighbors in need: make a donation (either online or text-to-give); that donation funds a milk coupon that can be used at any retailer across the nation; those coupons are distributed by Feeding America food banks to their clients in need. Clients can choose when, where, and what kind of milk to provide to their families.
Other Feeding America partners like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Roundy’s and SuperValu have participated in The Great American Milk Drive. The genuine excitement around this project—a way to get milk to clients who currently receive less than one gallon per person per YEAR—has created a breath-taking momentum. Communities are participating; local dairy producers and processors are connecting with their local food banks. It’s kind of a milk miracle.
‘Tis the season to give; check out the dairy cows helping to tell the holiday milk story (http://milklife.com/give). Currently the dairy industry is matching dollar for dollar, gallon for gallon, every donation that is made to The Great American Milk Drive. So think about giving the gift of milk this holiday season. Giving always makes my own milk and cookies taste that much better.
Kelli Walker is the director of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. She loves cows.