Wanted: Partnerships Making Sustainable Changes in Their Community

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. ─ Henry Ford

Imagine what it takes to grow a thriving tomato plant. It all starts with a seed planted in quality soil. The gardener tends to it by providing it with water, a bit of food and adequate sunlight, which allows it to grow and flourish. The reward is a great bounty of tomatoes that can be enjoyed by many. Much like how the tomato plant thrives with this diverse support, successful partnerships take some finessing and hard work to fully develop.

In fact, many partnership “seeds” have been planted and are making positive impacts in the areas of child health and wellness, food insecurity relief and environmental stewardship across the country. To celebrate the bounty of these community partnerships, we are seeking nominations for the 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Why should you be excited about this award?

The topic of sustainability is almost everywhere. We’ve covered it in a previous post to highlight some of the great work dairy farmers are doing and answer related questions. As health and wellness professionals, you know that people want to know where their food comes from, and its impact on the health and sustainability of the planet and people. However, since there is not a universally accepted definition of sustainability, perception of this topic may be limited to greenhouse gases or on-farm practices. To help broaden peoples’ scope of sustainability and showcase that environmentally friendly programs tied with dairy foods are happening in the community, Community Partnerships was added as category to the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards.

What qualifies?

Award-winning partnerships need to show how they are collaborating or have collaborated with another community stakeholder(s) to create and implement effective programs/projects with the focus being on sustainability, relieving food insecurity and/or the health and well-being of children. Since dairy farmers have a long-standing legacy as being environmental stewards, it is required that at least one partner be from the dairy community (e.g., a dairy farmer/company or grocery store). This category is intentionally broad, to give the opportunity for new and innovative ideas to get well-deserved recognition. If you have questions about the potential eligibility of a partnership, contact Dan Peerless.

To inspire you and help you think of a nominee, here’s one amazing example of a winning partnership recognized this year for Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships: the Northern Illinois Food Bank and its partner Prairie Farms Dairy. Together, they collaborated to bring a consistent supply of nutrient-rich milk to thousands of clients in northern Illinois through the Milk 2 MyPlate program. Since milk is one of the most requested and least donated items at Feeding America food banks, this is a win-win. So far, Milk 2 MyPlate has provided more than 3.9 million servings of milk to food bank families.

Other combinations that can be considered include, but aren’t limited to:

  • A grocery store or local co-op + community wellness program
  • School + a dairy companies
  • Summer meals provider + local hospital
  • Dairy farm tours offered to health and wellness professionals

Know of a partnership that fits the bill? Nominate them for this prestigious award. The deadline is December 4, 2015.

Thank you for your support!

Follow me @JeanRagalieRD as we continue the ongoing sustainable nutrition discussion.