Milk from Vermont dairies will be processed to feed Vermonters in need
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has coordinated an effort to recover raw milk from being disposed while creating a new, temporary food supply for the Vermont Foodbank. In collaboration with the Vermont Community Foundation, $60,000 has been made available to purchase this milk for the benefit of Vermonters. These efforts are particularly important as Vermont’s dairy industry, like all sectors, has been challenged by Covid-19 but remain essential to Vermonters’ food supply.
“This collaboration highlights the integral role of Vermont dairy farms in our state’s food system,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I applaud these groups for supporting our farmers and Vermonters in need, feeding our most vulnerable and not wasting a valuable and healthy agricultural product.”
Joining in this effort is Dairy Farmers of America (DFA); Commonwealth Dairy, LLC, producer of Green Mountain Creamery® yogurt, and HP Hood. DFA family farms will be providing the milk to Green Mountain Creamery and HP Hood. The milk will be processed by these Vermont dairy producers for a donation of 42,000 cups of yogurt and over 11,500 gallons of 2% milk to the Vermont Foodbank. The donation will serve hundreds of food bank clients over the course of the coming weeks, providing nutritious dairy products to the Vermont communities in need while preventing food waste. New England Dairy also provided support to bring these businesses together.
“Due to changes in demand, the surplus of milk available from our Vermont dairy farms has grown over recent weeks and is highlighting the uncertainty they face today. I want to thank those involved in this effort for recognizing the value of our Vermont dairy products, and the importance they hold in our economy and communities,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “We are thrilled that we have found a process to redistribute agricultural product that otherwise would have gone to waste to serve our neighbors in the communities we call home.”
“Dairy is a huge part of our rural working landscape and economy—it is also a critical piece of ‘who we are’ as a state,” says Dan Smith, president and CEO of The Vermont Community Foundation. “To be able to respond to a need for milk distribution and help feed Vermonters who are struggling are exactly the type of reasons we created the VT Covid-19 Response Fund, and we’re thrilled to work with such stand-up organizations.”
Beginning last week, product will be produced on a weekly basis and donated to the Vermont Foodbank in amounts of 1,152 gallons of milk for 10 weeks and 3,500 cases of yogurt throughout the month of May, helping the Vermont Foodbank to serve thousands of clients. The Vermont Foodbank, which serves more than 153,000 individuals each year, has seen an increase of up to 100% in demand since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are pleased to be a part of this initiative to get nutritious dairy products to Vermont families during these difficult times,” said Kiersten Bourgeois, manager of communications and industry affairs for DFA.
“Dairy farmers are also being challenged by disruptions as a result of Covid-19 and this initiative is a step in the right direction to supporting many parts of our society.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to a drastic increase in the number of people in need of help accessing food,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles. “When people are laid off or losing work hours with businesses shut down, their food budgets are hit hard. Meeting the increasing need is an immense task, and we wouldn’t stand a chance if not for creative efforts like this one that connect the resources available with the people who need them.”
“The support from the state of Vermont and DFA has been crucial in allowing our team to efficiently process a surplus of milk supply to provide yogurt to our communities in the area,” said Esteve Torrens, CEO of Lactalis US Yogurt,which owns Commonwealth Dairy, LLC. “With dairy farmers across the country struggling to redistribute their product, this collaboration is a win-win to curb unnecessary food waste and serve those in need.”