October 23, 2021

Generosity by the gallon

College hosts giveaway of milk, dairy products

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

A volunteer places two half-gallon jugs of milk into the trunk of a car Monday at SUNY Cortland. Dairy Farmers of America cooperative worked with the United Way and Seven Valleys Health Coalition to distribute 2,900 gallons, plus other dairy products.

A man wearing a red hat raised two half-gallons of milk in his hand, urging drivers forward, where he would either hand the milk to the driver or place it in the trunk.

“Thank you” echoed from every car that passed by.

“I’m incredibly grateful, especially being pregnant and out of work,” said Annie Compton of Cortland.

She and Gabrielle Carr of Cortland went together Monday evening to the milk distribution at SUNY Cortland, where the Dairy Farmers of America in partnership with Cornell University donated 5,800 half gallons of milk, which was distributed by volunteers coordinated by the United Way and Seven Valleys Health Coalition.

“Dairy Farmers of America, a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative, is pleased to work within our communities to ensure more people have access to dairy as part of a healthy diet,” said Jennifer Huson, the senior director of marketing, council affairs and industry relations for DFA Northeast, in a statement. “Our farm families are part of the fabric in our local communities and are dedicated to providing nutritious dairy products to family tables across the country.”

United Way Executive Director Christella Yonta said it was a great turnout, noting that they had seen hundreds of people in the first hour. In fact, the event was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. but started an hour earlier “because they were already lined up,” Southern said.

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Tess Southern of the Cortland County Dairy Promotion Committee hands a bag of dairy products to a driver.

Dryden milk giveaway set

DRYDEN — The Dairy Farmers of America in partnership with Cornell University and Empire Livestock Market in Dryden will give away close to 3,000 half-gallons of milk Friday.

The giveaway will be from 1 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until supplies last at Empire Livestock Market, 49 E. Main St., Dryden.

The dairy giveaway is one of many by the DFA and local organizations to get dairy products into homes during the coronavirus.

“Hearing of those in need on a national level is challenging, but seeing those struggling first-hand in your community is heartbreaking,” Dannielle Cornelius, manager of Empire Livestock’s Dryden Market, said in a news release. “We are happy to unite the forces of DFA, Empire Livestock and Cornell University to organize a dairy giveaway event to support the local community.”

The market and the dairy cooperative will also distribute milk to food banks, including close to 3,000 half-gallons to be delivered Monday to Friendship Donations Network in Ithaca.

“It’s great to see our community be purposeful in our support of local dairy farmers and each other,” Yonta said.

“We already knew food pantries had the need and wanted to help fill it while also supporting the farmers in our community,” said Susan Williams, assistant director of Seven Valleys Health Coalition.

Meghan Henry of Park Family Farms, who started a fundraiser for the same purpose, helped hand out 500 bags of other dairy products like cheese sticks, yogurt and cottage cheese that had been provided by Byrne Dairy, Upstate Farms, Chobani, Craft and Great Lakes Cheese.

Henry raised more than $2,000 for the effort, 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.

“It’s better than dumping milk,” Henry said.

In recent weeks some member farms of the dairy cooperative have had to dump milk as the dairy industry struggles with schools being closed and restaurants buying less dairy products — its two biggest buyers and hardships getting milk bottled and out for retail sale.

Williams said any checks or donations earmarked for dairy are being saved and when the dairy donations dwindle, the money will be used to buy dairy products for food pantries.

“We’re trying to get systems up where as long as the milk is available we’ll keep working with SUNY Cortland,” Williams said.

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

Williams said they are working with the American Dairy Association Northeast to get another dairy delivery, but that delivery will be distributed to other organizations.