Milk is one of the most requested items at food banks, yet it is rarely donated. As such, hungry families are missing out on the essential nutrients milk provides. That is changing in northwest Pennsylvania and throughout the state through an innovative program focused on providing fresh milk to families in need.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania has formally announced the launch of a Fill a Glass with Hope® pilot program, which is expected to provide more than 8,146 quarts of fresh milk through its network of agencies this year. According to Karen Seggi, executive director of Second Harvest, approximately 920 families will now receive fresh milk each month, in addition to other fresh food options.
“Milk is immediately associated with its positive benefits including making bones and teeth stronger, building muscle and much more,” Seggi said. “We are excited to build partnerships to provide fresh, nutritious milk to hungry families and children in our area.”
Fill a Glass with Hope®, the first statewide charitable fresh milk program, is a collaborative partnership among Feeding Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program and Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association. Second Harvest is the eighth food bank within the Feeding Pennsylvania network to launch the program.
Pennsylvania Executive Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Smith, commended the food bank and the dairy industry partners for their work in bringing fresh milk to more Pennsylvanians.
“Our collective task is to find ways to connect production agriculture/food production to those in need of food,” Smith said. “Food is a basic human right and the Fill a Glass with Hope® campaign allows us to make that connection, serving as a lifeline that provides milk for our families who may not otherwise have access.”
Funds to support the Fill a Glass with Hope® program are provided through grants, corporate sponsors and individual donations. Second Harvest purchases its milk from Meadow Brook Dairy in Erie. Meadow Brook Dairy is able to sell the milk at a discounted price through a special licensing arrangement the food bank has with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the state’s Milk Marketing Board.
“Meadow Brook Dairy is pleased to support this unique program by providing fresh milk to hungry families,” said Jed Davis, general manager. “The Fill a Glass with Hope® effort allows us to expand our contributions to the community and aligns with our company’s purpose of strengthening lives through the goodness of dairy.”
Pennsylvania’s fresh milk program began in June 2014 with Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank partnering with Harrisburg Dairy and Schneider’s Dairy, respectively. The program evolved into the Fill a Glass with Hope® initiative in January 2015 with a kickoff at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and was expanded this year to include all eight food banks that are part of the Feeding Pennsylvania network, which serves nearly two million people annually.
“No one in Pennsylvania should be denied access to nutritious food, including fresh milk, especially the half million children who are at risk of going hungry,” said Jane Clements-Smith, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania. “Through the Fill a Glass with Hope® initiative, we are working toward a healthier, hunger-secure Pennsylvania.”
Speaking on behalf of the program’s dairy industry partners, Jeff Raney, a Crawford County dairy farmer and member of the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program and Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association boards, said: “Dairy farmers and milk processors are committed to supporting the fresh milk program to help ensure that all Pennsylvania families have access to milk’s powerhouse of nutrients.”
According to Seggi, corporate and individual support will be instrumental in helping Second Harvest Food Bank’s Fill a Glass with Hope® program achieve its goals.
“Every dollar donated enables us to provide eight servings of nutritious milk to northwest Pennsylvania families in need,” she said. “We encourage you to visit our website – www.nwpafoodbank.org – to learn how you can support the program.”