December 8, 2021

Farmers to give away 2,000 gallons of milk

Metro Creative Connection

More than 2,000 gallons of fluid milk and a variety of other dairy products will be given away from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at SUNY Cortland, for which the only entrance will be 4 Pashley Drive.

The products are donated by the Dairy Farmers of America and processed by Cornell Dairy.

“This large collaborative effort came together pretty quickly out of a general willingness to help each other,” said Christella Yonta, United Way executive director. “It’s great to see our community be purposeful in our support of local dairy farmers and each other.”

“This is happening thanks to a long list of individuals, businesses and organizations,” said Susan Williams, assistant director of Seven Valleys Health Coalition. “We already knew food pantries had the need and wanted to help fill it while also supporting the farmers in our community.”

Meghan Henry of Park Family Farms, who started a fundraiser for the same purpose, learned Yonta and Williams were working on a similar effort through the Hunger Coalition, so they joined forces. Henry’s fundraiser has already surpassed its $2,000 goal, which she plans to donate to the United Way for Cortland County’s “Cortland Cares Fund,” which is being matched up to $25,000 by the Cortland Community Foundation.

“This allows us to provide dairy products to those in need, while recognizing and supporting the dairy industry, and this way the money was doubled thanks to the Community Foundation,” Henry said.

The United Way plans to use any donations, including Henry’s, specifically earmarked for the dairy drive to buy a variety of dairy products for local food programs, Yonta said.

Most products for the community distribution have been donated by local producers and what’s left over will be donated to food pantries.

Dairy products are not staples of a food pantry, so the planning for this distribution moves toward a long-term goal to help pantries expand capacity to provide more fresh foods.

Auxiliary Services Corp. SUNY Cortland has been working with Seven Valleys to provide cold storage to a new food rescue program as well as food pantries running out of cooler space. ASC will store the extra dairy products until they are distributed to the pantries.

“We’re pleased to be able to join in the efforts to support the greater Cortland community and wish everyone the best,” said Jeffrey Scott, dining services director at ASC of SUNY Cortland.

A map will be posted at www.211cortland.org/dairydistribution identifying the specific site, and the University Police Department will direct traffic.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are pleased to partner with these community organizations to support the needs of our neighbors and friends,” said Jennifer Huson, senior director of marketing, council affairs and industry relations for Dairy Farmers of America Northeast.