HARRISBURG, Pa., June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Agriculture Secretary George Greig announced today Pennsylvanians will be able to access milk at food banks in 27 counties through an innovative milk distribution pilot program.
Greig joined partners from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Harrisburg Dairies and representatives from the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence at the food bank, which will distribute the milk to its affiliates across the state. This program will help 55,000 people served by the food bank.
"Pennsylvania now has a way to serve milk to our citizens who otherwise wouldn't have access to nature's perfect beverage," said Greig. "This opens a new market for our state's high-quality milk and is the first step to ensuring all Pennsylvanians have access to it. I thank our partners for their work to help Pennsylvanians in need."
Through the public-private partnership, milk will be shipped to Harrisburg Dairies by Pennsylvania dairy farmers to be processed for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. The department will work to ensure that milk is provided at a discounted price to the food bank to better serve Pennsylvanians who use the food bank's services.
"Milk is one of the most highly-desired and needed food items for our hungry Pennsylvania neighbors", said Executive Director Joe Arthur. "But milk historically has presented great challenges to food banks and our community partners.
"However, as a result of our great success in ramping up fresh produce sharing, we now have enormous capacity to handle, transport and distribute refrigerated food like milk. This milk program will help us leverage our capacity to greatly expand the amount of fresh milk available to people seeking our help," said Arthur.
The food bank's system distributes food to more than 800 soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries in 27 central Pennsylvania counties, serving about 20,000 households weekly. Ninety-five percent of food banks nationwide report they don't receive enough milk to meet clients' needs.
"We're proud to partner with the food bank and Pennsylvania dairy families to help fellow Pennsylvanians," said Harrisburg Dairies Chief Financial Officer Betsy Albright. "We hope to demonstrate that this model could work across the state and throughout the country to combat hunger in other communities."
The department facilitated the partnership between dairy industry leaders and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Now, the partnership between producers, processors and the food bank will distribute the milk.
"This program will benefit producer, consumer and all segments in-between," said John Pierce of the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers. "We're glad to help this project come to fruition and look forward to replicating it across the state so families in other communities can enjoy the fresh milk that comes from their local bottling plants."
Pennsylvania is home to more than 30 milk bottling operations. The state is the nation's fifth-largest milk producer and home to more than 7,800 dairy farm families. Governor Tom Corbett declared June Dairy Month in Pennsylvania.
"This is a great opportunity for Pennsylvania's dairy industry," said Dauphin County dairy farmer Adam Kopp. "We know the power of milk as a nutritious beverage for children and adults. We're looking forward to supplying this new market and helping Pennsylvanians."
"We're now serving a brand new market with Pennsylvania-produced milk," said Greig. "This shows the best of what Pennsylvanians – in government, business and nonprofits – can do when we work together."
Samantha Elliott Krepps, 717-787-5085
Brad Peterson, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, 717-564-1700
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture