Low-income individuals who are food insecure may have limited access to nutritious foods, including perishable food items, like milk. To address this growing problem, Feeding America and its network members and clients are working toward supplying foods that maintain health while addressing the food needs of the population being served.
Thanks to a grant received from National Dairy Council in 2014, the Yolo Food Bank in Northern California and its 14 partner agencies can now safely store and distribute perishables like milk, yogurt and other items, which has increased the number of nutritious offerings its food banks can offer to needy families and individuals. This is especially helpful, since a report from Feeding America found that while milk and milk products are among the top items requested at food banks in the Feeding America network, many facilities fall short when it comes to safe storage options and milk donations.
“[The grant] meant the ability to purchase much needed refrigeration units for 14 of our partner agencies; for some this was their first cold storage,” stated Kevin Sanchez, Executive Director for the Yolo County Food Bank. “We did replace a few dilapidated refrigerators which helped decrease the electric bill so the saving can be used for purchasing more food each month.”
During the year of this grant the Yolo Food Bank distributed over 4 million pounds of food, including nearly 100,000 pounds of dairy foods. Food bank partners distributed this food via soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, group homes, emergency shelters and transitional housing programs. Thanks to the expanded refrigeration capacity, these agencies are now able to provide clients with a consistent supply of nutritious perishable foods.
One agency noted that the children in their program are now enjoying milk with their cereal and yogurt and fruit during their morning snack time. Another agency commented that “meat and dairy can be particularly expensive (for our clients); refrigeration is the difference between (us) offering these foods and not offering these foods.”
Those passionate about helping food insecure families meet their need for nutritious foods are encouraged to support Feeding America in the Great American Milk Drive. This voucher donation program helps to raise awareness of the scarcity of milk in food banks and provide a refrigeration-free solution to help needy families everywhere increase their access to fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich milk.