August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, a day to recognize the people dedicated to humanitarian work. This year, we at The Dairy Alliance wish to thank those who work for a cause important to us: feeding America’s food insecure families.
You don’t have to travel far to help others. We’ve found a way to aid our local communities. The Dairy Alliance supports many programs that help ensure all families in our region receive balanced meals. Within our region’s schools, The Dairy Alliance partners with school staff to ensure students have access to dairy products throughout the day even when students are on summer vacation. Including a serving of dairy with each meal helps students remain focused throughout the day, but milk can do so much more than that.
We are passionate about milk because of how it can help our communities. Milk and other dairy foods are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamins for people of all ages. When given access to fresh milk, our communities are healthier.
This is what drives our work with food banks across the southeast. The 2014 Hunger in America Study, the most comprehensive survey of food pantry visitors, found that 40 percent of participants said they would like access to more dairy products in their local pantries, yet this issue continues due to lack of cold storage across food pantries. To aid our region, we sponsor the Milk2MyPlate initiative, originally created by Northern Illinois Food Bank and Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. in 2012. This model has created opportunities for food banks, processors and dairy farmers across to country to replicate and better serve their communities. We continue that success by providing grants to purchase new refrigeration units for food pantries, with funding also providing educational materials related to the health benefits of dairy products, incorporating ideas on how these items can be added into the daily lives of those served.
There are also national milk programs we support, such as the Give A Gallon Milk Program. Together with Feeding America®, this program also addresses the want for more milk donations but focuses on milk donations instead of refrigeration. Since 2014, over 31 million servings of milk have been donated through the program. (If you wish to support this cause, you can provide a one-time or monthly monetary donation here.)
Though we work to provide milk to those who are food insecure, none of these efforts are possible without the staff and volunteers of local food banks and pantries. These community members are dedicated to aiding and supporting their neighbors. Today, we say thank you to food pantry workers for their humanitarian work in their own backyard.
To help your community, remember the efforts of those recognized on World Humanitarian Day by volunteering with your local food bank.
To find a food bank near you or access information regarding food assistance programs, visit Feeding America’s Find Your Local Food Bank. They also accept one-time or monthly monetary donations.