‘Great American Milk Drive’ helps 46 million Americans that miss out on milk

Courtesy of AP Graphics
Courtesy of AP Graphics

PHILADELPHIA (WATE) – Milk is one of their most requested items, but Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee said it is rarely donated.

“It’s really hard for our food agencies to store it for extended periods of time because they don’t have the means to store it,” said Blaire Hall with Second Harvest Food Bank. “It has nine essential nutrients in it, including a high source of protein and that is crucial for somebody that is suffering from hunger.” The Great American Milk Drive’s goal is to make it easy to deliver fresh milk to food bank’s like Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

The Great American Milk Drive is working to change that, and it is backed by some local dairy farms and milk processors.

At Davis Dairy Farms in Philadelphia (Loudon County) milk is their life.

“We farm about 1,250 acres and milk about 800 cows. Got both daughters and sons-in-law back on the farm,” said Randy Davis.

The thought of people not having access to milk is hard for them to hear, but in Tennessee there are more than one million people with that need.

It is why the Great American Milk Drive got started, and it is funded by those processors and dairy farmers like the Davises.

“There’s no administration costs because the dairy farmers have took care of that, and so if you give a dollar worth of milk, you’re going to get a dollar’s worth of milk,” said Davis.

The Great American Milk Drive collects money to give to local food banks. In our area it goes to Second Harvest, and the food banks give milk vouchers to families.

“One thing about milk, there’s not a more nutritious food anywhere. That eight ounce glass of milk in the morning can provide more nutrition than anything else they can have,” said Davis. “This time of year you have so many folks that don’t have a lot for Christmas or they may go hungry and it’s a great place to, instead of buying that expensive gift, give a little money to charity and make Great American Milk Drive one of those charities.”

Since 2014, milk drive organizers said they have donated 6.7 million services of milk across the United States and 420,889 servings in Tennessee.

“Milk is an easy and affordable way to provide much needed nourishment to children who might otherwise miss out on it this holiday season,” said Victor Zaborsky, vice president of marketing of the Milk Processor Education Program. “As Americans continue to give thanks around bountiful holiday tables this season, food banks across the country are stretched thin as they try to provide for families in need. The Great American Milk Drive is helping to change that for the families who need milk’s high-quality protein the most.”

On average, food bank clients reported to the Great American Milk Drive that they receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year, leaving many families with limited access to milk’s essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving and three of the top nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium. According to milk drive organizers 46 million Americans miss out on milk, including 12 million children.

How to donate

Those wanting to help can donate online or at Walmart to put milk on the table for families in East Tennessee. Those donating online can keep their donations local by entering their zip code.

Organizers said people can visit Walmart this holiday season and purchase two bags of M&M’s candies (9.4 ounces or larger) and up to a gallon of milk will be donated to The Great American Milk Drive.

For more information visit the Great American Milk Drive’s website.

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