Keeping Cool with Delicious, Nutritious Milk
Milk is one of the most requested items at food shelves and food banks. And for good reason. Milk is an essential component for good health, particularly for seniors and children. Milk is naturally nutrient-rich. It has nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per 8 oz. serving. Milk is also the top food source for calcium, vitamin D and potassium—three of the nutrients most likely to be missing in kids’ diets.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for food shelves and food pantries to consistently provide milk to meet demand. The main obstacle: lack of refrigeration. Many food shelves and meal programs find it hard to keep up with the demand for milk and other dairy products because they simply don’t have the refrigerated storage.
“We often ran out of room for the incoming food, and we were not always able to order some items for fear of not being able to store it properly,” said Maryanne Abei, operations manager at STEP in St. Louis Park. “Now we are able to order cheese and butter because we have this cooler for our other dairy products.”
The cooler Abei is referring to is courtesy of $80,000 in grant funding provided by Midwest Dairy—funding that enabled Second Harvest Heartland to purchase dairy coolers for 37 food shelves in Minnesota. The grant was intended to support food shelves in the increased distribution of milk and other nutritious dairy products that are in high demand, and that’s exactly what it’s doing.
The grant covered both the cost of the refrigerator and delivery. Food shelves were able to choose from a selection of four different types of coolers to best meet the needs of their individual programs. Most of the refrigerators chosen featured glass doors to allow food shelf clients to view the products in abundance and take what they need.
“We have been intentional about getting fresh, healthy foods into our food shelf,” said Abei. “Having the cooler through the Midwest Dairy grant has allowed us to store additional milk and dairy products that we get through Food Rescue.”
Christine Pulver, director of the Basic Needs Program at Keystone Community Services in Saint Paul, said the new cooler doubled their food shelf’s cooler capacity.
“The two-door cooler replaced an older single-door model, which doubled our cooler space for milk and other dairy products,” she said. “Our participants are looking for healthy options, including dairy products and fresh produce. Our program is currently serving well over 8,000 individuals each month through three food shelf sites and a mobile distribution vehicle.”
Cindy Klatt, mobile food shelf project coordinator at Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf (CCEFS) said their new cooler has been critical in helping CCEFS distribute an additional 25 gallons of milk a week.
“Proteins, milk and other dairy and produce all are high priority items for our clients,” she said.
In addition to Midwest Dairy, US Foods and Arctic Air provided generous support in the form of reduced pricing and delivery of the coolers.
On any given day, one in 11 Minnesotans does not know where their next meal is coming from: kids come home to an empty fridge and seniors skip meals to pay for their medications. Second Harvest Heartland, together with more than 1,000 organizational partners and 1,000 food shelf, food pantry and meal program partners, believes no one should go hungry. In so many ways, partners like Midwest Dairy make a transformational impact on our mission to end hunger.