This is a recent post by Appel Family Dairy of Northwest Road, Ferndale, that Ann Appel of the family gave permission to the Tribune to reprint.
Article after article describes the horrors of milk being dumped, potatoes with no place to go, onions being buried and fresh vegetables being plowed under. What an immense waste of food! “Donate it!” people say. Give it to food banks, the homeless, food pantries. Make vodka (of potatoes) or let people come and get them for free. So many solutions!
As farmers, we wish it were that easy. We dedicate our lives to producing food and, just as for you, it breaks our heart to see all this food “go to waste.”
Please consider with me how we could make the right thing happen.
Thinking through our options as dairy farmers, one option would be to let people come on the yard and pick up milk. Bring your own containers and we’ll let you take it straight from the tank, just like the good ol’ days. I have great memories of doing this myself as a child. I loved that great straight-from-the-cow fresh, whole milk.
But wait a second, our milk tank holds approximately 8,000 gallons! That’s a lot of milk! That’s a lot of people! Nope, I don’t see that solution happening, even if it were legal. Next option!
Farmers could bottle it themselves, bring it to the food banks, the homeless shelters, and distribute it to anyone who needs it. Now we’re talking about needing a new building, new equipment, inspections, a producer license and a processor license (raw milk legally has to be produced and processed at the same location), hauling, transportation and who knows what else. If we wanted pasteurized milk, we would also need a pasteurizer. All a farmer needs is the know-how, the skills, more money, more labor and more time. Hmm... yeah, I don’t see that happening anytime soon either. By the time this could be accomplished, there won’t be a need for it.
OK, one more option that some may think possible and it is. Yet it’s not the farmer’s decision — it’s the processor’s. After the milk is shelf ready, it can be donated! Why aren’t we doing this? Wait, we are!
Google search “dairy farmers donate milk.” You will find numerous instances of farmers, processors and dairy organizations joining together to donate milk and dairy products to food banks, schools and charities.
Here is just a partial list:
• 9,000 gallons of milk to the Salvation Army of Syracuse, New York
• 15,000 pounds of milk and cheese to schools and food pantries in Wisconsin
• 9,500 half-gallons to the Connecticut Food Bank
• 120,000 pounds of cottage cheese to local food banks in Ohio
• 36,000 half-gallons to City Harvest in Brooklyn, NY, Shane Food Program in Philadelphia, PA, and Rolling Harvest in Hightstown, NJ.
• 4,000 gallons of milk to the Corinth Central School District in Corinth, NY
• 21,000 gallons of milk to nine different food banks in Ohio
• 22,000 gallons of milk to county student families in Ohio
• 4,860 gallons of milk to the Fayette City Food Bank, Pennsylvania
• 45,000 pounds of cheese donated in Wisconsin and Illinios
• 45,000 pounds of cheese to Twin Cities Catholic Food Bank in Wisconsin
Now this is just from a dairy farmer’s perspective, but I’m sure that it’s similar for other food producers. There is always more to it than people, even the farmers themselves, realize. There is no easy solution.
So how can you help? The obvious one is to buy more milk. Another way is to encourage companies and organizations to work with producers and processors to donate food to those in need. Let’s all work together to make sure no one goes hungry and no food goes to waste. Send a note of encouragement or thanks to grocery store clerks, managers, owners, truckers, farm workers and farmers who are working hard to safely and efficiently make food available to you. And if you see those suggestions to “just donate it,” kindly inform and spread the word, We are!
If you want to donate, I’ll give a couple of suggestions below. You can also look to donate to your local food bank, homeless mission and other local organizations.
Feeding America is an organization that has launched the COVID-19 Response Fund, a national food- and fund-raising effort to support people facing hunger and the food banks who help them.
Genyouth is providing grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery. From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will ensure our children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need.