CINCINNATI – The Kroger Co., announced that the company is expanding its Dairy Rescue Program, which is designed to support children and families during the coronavirus (COVID-19). The expanded program will run through the summer months, sending about 200,000 gallons of milk from suppliers and farmers across the United States to Feeding American food banks and community organizations.
"Kroger recognizes the growing need for fresh, highly nutritious food in our community, especially for children as schools remain closed during the pandemic to flatten the curve," said Erin Sharp, group vice president of manufacturing of Kroger. "At a time when dairy farmers have surplus raw milk, we're doubling down on our mission to reduce hunger and waste."
With the closure of restaurants, schools and hotels across the country, some farmers have been forced to dump excess milk on their farms. The expanded Dairy Rescue Program builds on Kroger’s existing model with its dairy cooperative suppliers. Through the program dairy cooperatives will donate surplus milk that’s usually sold to restaurants, schools and hotels while Kroger will donate the processing and packaging of the milk. In some areas, Kroger’s logistics team will transport the milk to the food banks.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses like restaurants and hotels across the country to close, some of America's farmers are left without buyers for their dairy supply," said Heather J. McCann, director of public affairs for Dairy Farmers of America's Mideast Area. "Kroger's Dairy Rescue Program is an invaluable resource for the dairy industry during this crisis and beyond, helping distribute and process surplus milk to communities who need it the most."
Over the next several months several of Kroger’s manufacturing facilities will process the donated milk:
Tamarack Farms in partnership with Dairy Farmers of America will donate milk to benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, YMCA Van Buren, and the Salvation Army in Columbus, Ohio; New Beginnings in Youngstown, Ohio; and the West Ohio Food Bank in Lima, Ohio.
Kroger Michigan Dairy in partnership with Michigan Milk Producers Association will donate rescued milk to Michigan food banks supported by Food Bank Council of Michigan.
Winchester Farms Dairy in partnership with Dairy Farmers of America will donate milk to benefit Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland in Elizabethtown, Ky.; Dare to Care in Louisville, Ky.; God's Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Ky.; and the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati. Transportation will be donated by Penske Logistics.
Vandervoort's Dairy in partnership with Select Milk Producers will donate milk to benefit the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Houston Food Bank in Houston. Transportation will be donated by Quickway Carriers.
Centennial Dairy partnership in Atlanta with Dairy Farmers of America, to direct 24,000 half-gallons of milk to support health care workers and first responders in Augusta, Macon and Savannah, Ga., during the pandemic over the next month.