GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — In just three months, Dairy MAX, a nonprofit regional dairy council, and partner trucking companies have distributed more than 200,000 gallons of milk to food banks in a multistate area, according to a statement released July 29. The delivery effort, which began in May, is part of dairy farmers’ collective COVID-19 relief efforts. Dairy MAX represents more than 900 dairy farm families across eight states.
As the COVID-19 pandemic increased Americans’ reliance on food banks for survival, dairy farms stepped in to help families in need, providing nutrition, fighting hunger and caring for neighbors. Americans may not realize that milk is one of the most requested items at food banks — yet is also the product least often donated by individuals.
Dairy MAX farmers sought ways to ensure food banks receive and distribute as much dairy as possible to families in need. Mass distribution quickly emerged at the start of the pandemic, with many food banks setting up a distribution “drive-through” in centrally located large parking lots. The food is free, and families in need can drive up and receive a box of food in a safe, contactless manner.
Dairy MAX wanted to ensure these families were also receiving milk in addition to their fruits, vegetables, and meat offerings, but a transportation partner and refrigeration was needed to bridge the gap. Trucking partnerships began when Dairy MAX learned that Convoy, a digital freight network, was offering free transportation for truckloads of food being donated to Feeding America’s network of food banks across the country.
“When we heard about Convoy’s efforts delivering donations across the U.S. to food banks, our team immediately thought of them as a partner that could help us provide dairy to families in need,” said Mike Konkle, CEO of Dairy MAX. “We have been grateful for their help and partnership, which kick-started our ability to bring dairy products quickly to food banks and families.”
After a successful experience with Convoy, Dairy MAX has continued to grow its initiative of matching trucking partners to food banks by enlisting the help of others, such as FedEx Custom Critical shipping service, Flexport freight and Ryder Truck Rental.
- FedEx Custom Critical has been instrumental in serving the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank, delivering nearly 18,000 gallons of milk to mass distribution sites that feed people across 26 North Texas counties.
- Flexport is offering discounted freight services to nonprofits working to provide to those in need. The company has awarded $30,000 in trucking services from the Flexport.org fund to deliver milk to Creative Outreach Ministries, furthering the organization’s effort to supply food and milk to churches and smaller nonprofits working to feed their local communities throughout Montgomery County, Texas. The Flexport/Dairy MAX partnership supplied Creative Outreach organizations with 56,000 gallons of milk throughout June and July 2020.
- Ryder Truck Rental has stepped in to help serve The Food Bank of Central Louisiana and the Coastal Bend Food Bank in Texas. In addition to helping these food banks support weekly mobile distributions, Ryder’s refrigerated trailers are used to provide additional storage at each food bank, allowing the organization to accept additional milk to be distributed to partner agencies and food pantries throughout the state. With the help of Ryder’s rental equipment, The Food Bank of Central Louisiana will deliver an additional 42,000 gallons of milk monthly throughout its 11-county service area, and the Coastal Bend Food Bank will deliver an additional 12,000 gallons monthly to 11 counties across South Texas.
While the pandemic has increased the need, the response from the dairy farmers of Dairy MAX is in line with the organization’s core values and history. The dairy community at large has donated more than 31 million servings of milk to families in need through food bank efforts and Feeding America’s Great American Milk Drive over the last five years.
“Most families that use food banks receive an average of 1 gallon of milk per year, which is by no means enough to fulfill the nutritional guidelines that recommend three servings of dairy a day,” said Jennie McDowell, director of business development for Dairy MAX. “You won’t find a group of people more passionate and connected to community feeding and support than the dairy farm families that are a part of Dairy MAX.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.