Updated: Nov 12, 2018
This morning, a large semi pulled up to the docks at our centrally located warehouses in Winston-Salem.
This, alone, is not necessarily eventful. Every day, trucks large and small are coming and going from Second Harvest Food Bank, moving food rescued from grocery stores and manufacturers, saving it from becoming waste. In fact, Second Harvest has our own fleet of trucks–perhaps you have seen them as they travel out on the roads of our 18-county service area gathering and distributing food.
But the content of today’s truck delivery was special. It was milk. Lots and lots of milk.
17 pallets of it, in fact. “We are expecting more shipments between now and March 2019,” says Lisa Richardson, Second Harvest’s Director of Finance and Operations.
While it is a huge logistical challenge to store and quickly distribute because of its perishable nature, milk is an important and healthy food to distribute. It does, in fact, do a body good.
“A balanced diet is a cornerstone of good health and while enjoying a variety of healthful foods is important, low-fat dairy such as milk is strongly recommended to be a part of this diet,” says Kina Charles, Second Harvest’s Nutrition Services Manager. “Calcium, protein, and Vitamin D, which are all found in abundance in milk, play an important role in maintaining bone health and overall wellness. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage children and adults to enjoy three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day–but we know that milk is expensive, and not everyone can afford it when they are living on a tight budget. That’s why all this milk coming in today is so important.”
Second Harvest has been distributing food across Northwest North Carolina through a large and growing network of local partners for 36 years, and is increasingly focusing on food insecurity and its connections to public health. We know that individuals, families, and communities that are food insecure are also often facing diet-related health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As a result, Second Harvest is working hard to increase our capacity to supply healthy, nutritious food, instead of foods that merely provide calories.
Besides encouraging our generous donors to donate the healthiest options at our food drives, we also rely heavily on nutritional commodities from the US government– and that is exactly where all this milk comes from.
The fresh milk is a buy-back coordinated by the federal government designed to support American farmers, and then, in turn, Feeding America food banks such as Second Harvest and our work to alleviate food insecurity. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides nearly 90 high-quality, staple products including canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and dried eggs, meat, poultry, fish, cheese, pasta products, cereal… and milk. Donna Mashburn, Executive Director of our partner program Pastor’s Pantry in Davidson County, says that TEFAP is an important source of food for their mission work, especially when it comes to serving senior citizens. “TEFAP plays a big role in our work,” she explains. “The outcomes in the physical and mental states of the people we serve are clear when we can offer this nutritious food.”
USDA foods and TEFAP are vital sources of nutritious food for our food bank and support the agricultural market–we believe it is a government program that is truly a win-win for farmers, people facing hunger, and for North Carolina. That is one reason why we are encouraging our local representatives to support a strong Farm Bill this year, and keep TEFAP, as well as the SNAP program, fully funded.
But today our mind is on logistics. We will be packing our large coolers full of milk, and we are looking forward to the completion of our new cold storage facility that is in the works. We are calling on our 460 member partner network to come to collect and distribute what they can, and will be distributing milk ourselves, as necessary.