The Dairy Rescue program will last through the summer to provide families of children no longer in school with milk.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many dairy farmers have large quantities of surplus milk normally sold to now-closed restaurants, schools and hotels. The Kroger Co. is expanding its partnerships with these farmers in what its calling the Dairy Rescue Program. Kroger will process and donate about 200,000 gallons of additional milk to Feeding America food banks and community organizations through the end of August.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses like restaurants and hotels across the country to close, some of America's farmers are left without buyers for their dairy supply," said Heather J. McCann, director of public affairs for Dairy Farmers of America's Mideast Area. "Kroger's Dairy Rescue Program is an invaluable resource for the dairy industry during this crisis and beyond, helping distribute and process surplus milk to communities who need it the most."
Kroger already has partnerships with the Michigan Milk Producers Association and Dairy Farmers of America, donating a combined 129,900 gallons throughout the year. This summer, four of Kroger's manufacturing facilities will process the milk for the Dairy Rescue Program including: Tamarack Farms in Ohio, Kroger Michigan Dairy, Winchester Farms Dairy in Kentucky and Vandervoot's Dairy in Texas.
"Kroger recognizes the growing need for fresh, highly nutritious food in our community, especially for children as schools remain closed during the pandemic to flatten the curve," said Erin Sharp, Kroger's group vice president of manufacturing. "At a time when dairy farmers have surplus raw milk, we're doubling down on our mission to reduce hunger and waste."
The dairy cooperatives will donate the surplus milk, while Kroger will donate the processing and packaging. Kroger's logistics team along with other logistic partners such as Penske Logistics and Quickway Carriers will transport the milk to the food banks.
Kroger is not the only grocer working with dairy farmers to help feed communities most in need. Last week, Publix Super Markets announced a new initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk to help farmers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.