In honor of National Dairy Month, the Piatt County Farm Bureau teamed up with Prairie Farms in Champaign to distribute 400 half-gallons of milk in Monticello on June 15.
It was a win for many: Area residents, some of whom are without jobs due to the COVID-19-related economic downturn; farmers who have had supply chain issues; even food pantries who are struggling to keep up with demand.
Piatt County Farm Bureau Manager Baley Milton said she knew there was a need, but that the response when the distribution was advertised on Facebook was surprising.
“It kind of blew up,” she said. “We had 5,000 views within two hours of it being shared.”
The 200 gallons were distributed to about 100 families outside of Monticello High School.
Prairie Farms donated the milk, and the St. Louis Dairy Council added in recipe cards and printed dairy facts.
“It just felt good to do some outreach, especially since we haven’t been able to do much of it right now,” said Milton.
Chris Edmonds, branch manager with the Prairie Farms Dairy in Urbana, said it is part of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, created during the COVID-19 crisis to connect food pantries and those in need to food suppliers.
“We’re in a position to help those in need with food. We have supported over 50 non-profit organizations through the program so far, and more are being added every day,” said Edmonds.
And while there were some farmers who needed to spill spoiled milk due to dwindling supply need, he said Prairie Farms producers did not need to resort to that.
“Our company worked really hard to navigate the supply chain challenges brought about by COVID-19. We were able to take the volume of milk that was lost when schools and restaurants closed and shift it over to where it was needed most, including the grocery stores and food pantries,” added Edmonds.
Prairie Farms also operates Our Caps Your Cause, a charitable program that donates 5 cents from each half-gallon and gallon purchase to organizations of the buyer’s choice.
Milton hopes the local milk distribution becomes a regular occurrence, possibly quarterly.