12 days of Christmas… with a twist.
Day 6: Food banks say the most requested and least available item is fresh milk. Dairy producers have set out to change that, just as the North American Meat Institute ‘meating the need’ partnership provides fresh meat and poultry, and produce growers donate 800 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables annually — along with canned and boxed donations from many citizen sources — provide 3 billion meals to the 46.5 million Americans (including 12 million children) who face hunger and rely on the Feeding America Food Bank system. Farmers and ranchers have a purpose-driven bond with their land and animals, and thank God they do. Look for links in this blog post to help!
By Sherry Bunting
Nothing against a plate of cucumbers, but there is something intangibly dynamic about this relationship-of-purpose between man and beast. It is a purpose-driven bond, and on farms and ranches, it is a working relationship.
Farms have had to expand over the years to survive with multiple generations operating larger farms together. But size doesn’t matter when it comes to the principles of caring for land and animals. Farmers and veterinarians use today’s advances to make the purpose-driven life of animals ever better.
What it comes down to is how we look at animals as a culture — the acceptance of animals as being useful to man, and of our role to protect and foster those animals in their service to man.
Beyond caring for the cows, farmers also care about their consumers and are the first to donate the fruits of their labor to the disadvantaged among us. Simply put: Farmers don’t like to see hunger. They constantly improve their practices to efficiently produce wholesome food that is affordable.
But hunger persists in America. Over 46 million Americans, including 12 million children rely on Feeding America food bank donations each year. Milk is one of the most requested and least donated items.
Leave it to farmers to pool their resources to help change that.
At the upcoming Pennsylvania Farm Show, a milk can for donations will be placed near the famous Pa. Dairyman’s milkshake stand for visitors to join with the companies and producers that are helping to “Fill a glass with hope.” In order to provide fresh milk, the cost of transport, refrigeration and distribution to families who rely on the Food Bank are part of what it takes. Those donations help move more milk to more food insecure families. Each dollar donated provides 8 servings of milk to a neighbor facing hunger. This has been going for one year, and to-date, 850,000 servings of milk have been donated.
Nationally, dairy producers are instrumental in the Great American Milk Drive to get milk to food banks. In its two years (and growing) more than 625,000 gallons (over 10 million servings) of milk have been delivered to families across the country through The Great American Milk Drive food bank donations. Meat and poultry producers also channel surplus to Food Banks as do produce growers, orchards — you name it. Farm folk pitch in because hunger is something they do not like to see.
Another Food Bank drive in Pennsylvania began during the All-American Dairy Show last September, 12,000 gallons of milk (nearly 100,000 pounds) were harvested from cows during their stay at the show. Through the efforts of the show and the Pennsylvania Dairymens Association this milk was turned into four tons of mild, creamy Farmers Cheese and provided to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
Out of the purpose-driven circle-of-life bond between man and animal comes the ability to feed a family and the families of countless others throughout the economy.
Out of this purpose-driven relationship comes a youngster’s first foray into animal care in the calf barn at home or cleaning up after livestock at the county fair.
Out of this purpose-driven relationship comes respect, responsibility, accomplishment and passion instilled in new generations.
Out of this purpose-driven relationship comes life-sustaining food worthy of our respect — not to be taken for granted.
Wherever you are reading this today, consider joining the farmers in their effort to bring fresh food to Food Banks. Check out The Great American Milk Drive, and check out Feeding America to give the gift of holiday meals.