WESTMORELAND COUNTY FAMILIES IN NEED NOW HAVE ACCESS TO FRESH MILK THROUGH WESTMORELAND COUNTY FOOD BANK AND FILL A GLASS WITH HOPE® PROGRAM
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 Westmoreland County and throughout Pennsylvania through an innovative program focused on providing fresh milk to families in need.
The Westmoreland County Food Bank today formally announced the launch of a Fill a Glass with Hope® pilot program, which is expected to provide more than 12,000 servings of milk this year through the St. Margaret Mary Food Pantry in Lower Burrell. According to Kris Douglas, chief executive officer of Westmoreland County Food Bank, approximately 255 families will now receive fresh milk each month, in addition to other fresh food options.
“Milk is a highly requested item, and we are proud to offer fresh milk along with a variety of other fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables and meat,” Douglas said. “We expect to grow our Fill a Glass with Hope® program in the coming months, offering nutritious fresh milk to even more families.”
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. Westmoreland County Food Bank is the third food bank within the Feeding Pennsylvania network to launch the program.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, who attended today’s kickoff, commended the food bank and the dairy industry partners for their work in bringing fresh milk to more Pennsylvanians.
“The Fill a Glass with Hope® campaign serves as a lifeline to ensure access to milk and the needed calcium, potassium, and vitamin D that we all know is necessary for overall health and wellness,” said Redding. “I would like to commend everyone here – the dairy industry and the charitable food network – on your efforts and thank you for your commitment to providing access to ALL Pennsylvanians.”
Funds to support the Fill a Glass with Hope® program are provided through grants, corporate sponsors and individual donations. Westmoreland County Food Bank purchases its milk from Turner Dairy Farms in Pittsburgh. Turner’s, which partners with 50 dairy farmers in Westmoreland and surrounding counties, 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.
“God has been very good to our family and to our company,” said Chuck Turner, president of Turner Dairy Farms. “Part of that goodness is the support we receive from the people in this community. We are happy to be able to give back to our neighbors who need some help.”
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 more than 2 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, Harold Shaulis, a Somerset County dairy farmer and chairman of the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, 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 Douglas, corporate and individual support will be instrumental in helping Westmoreland County 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 Westmoreland County families in need,” he said. “We encourage you to visit our website – www.westmorelandfoodbank.org – to learn how you can support the program.”
About Westmoreland County Food Bank
The Westmoreland County Food Bank serves nearly 45,000 area residents each year including 13,500 children and 4,950 seniors. WCFB currently has 62 member agencies in its network of emergency feeding sites. Of those, 45 are food pantries in which low income consumers are able to access emergency food assistance throughout the month. Last year (2015), the Food Bank distributed more than 7.5 million pounds of food. Fifty percent of WCFB’s food comes from the federal and state governments and the remaining 50 percent from local donations, food drives, and Feeding America. Administrative and fundraising costs account for 4 percent of the Food Bank’s operating budget. For more information, visit www.westmorelandfoodbank.org.
About Feeding Pennsylvania
Feeding Pennsylvania is a partnership formed among Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks. Our collective effort promotes and aids our members in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity for their communities and across Pennsylvania, and provides a shared voice on the issues of hunger and food access. Our member food banks serve more than 2 million people annually by distributing more than 138 million pounds of food throughout Pennsylvania to more than 2,600 agencies. In 2015, our collective workforce included 375 employees, who hosted more than 48,000 volunteers and facilitated more than 300,000 volunteer hours. Our members offer a wealth of experience in and knowledge about hunger relief. Feeding Pennsylvania fosters the exchange of ideas and information among these members to create innovative strategies and best practice guidelines for solving the problem of hunger in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.feedingpa.org.
About Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program
Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association is one of 19 state and regional milk product promotion organizations working under the umbrella of United Dairy Industry Association, a federation of state and regional dairy promotion organizations. We are the local affiliate of National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program are the local planning and management organizations funded by dairy farmer checkoff dollars to build demand for and sales of milk products and dairy foods throughout the region. Supported by 7,200 dairy farmers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, southern New Jersey and northern Virginia, they work closely with Dairy Management Inc.™ to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the Mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit www.dairyspot.com.
About Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association
The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association was originally formed as the Crawford County Dairy Association in 1871. Within 17 years, the county group became a statewide organization with a focus on supporting Pennsylvania dairy farms. In 1954, the Association joined together with the Valley Grange #1360 from Lewisberry, Pa., to serve hand-dipped milkshakes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. More than 60 years later, the Association now serves 140,000 vanilla, chocolate and mixed milkshakes each year. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association relies on the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show to fund its activities. The Association has surpassed the $1 million mark in funding to dairy youth development and education programs, securing a bright future for Pennsylvania’s dairy industry. For more information, visit www.padairymens.com.