The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County, in partnership with the University of Rochester, Dairy Farmers of America, Monroe County Dairy Princesses, and Mumford Dairy and Meat owners Mike and Cassandra Balonek, recently hosted a drive-thru donation event.
These organizations and a team of volunteers distributed 4,000 gallons of donated milk and hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer to area residents.
The COVID-19 outbreak is keeping people at home. Supply chain disruptions and shifts in consumer-buying habits have led the demand for dairy products to decrease. Many families are facing unemployment, leading to an increase in demand at food banks.
Despite the pandemic, dairy cows produce milk every day. This creates an excess of product in the marketplace in some cases. Rather than dumping product, DFA donated more than 150,000 gallons of milk to organizations and communities in need throughout the northeast. Local DFA farmers donated 5,000 gallons of milk to Monroe County for the drive-thru event.
“With so many in our community facing economic hardships due to COVID-19, we were looking for a way to help,” Michael Balonek said. “We reached out to our local Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Monroe County, and decided the best way to serve those in need was by partnering with our local CCE, DFA and the University of Rochester to get milk to those who needed it most in the urban Rochester communities.”
Drivers lined up on UR’s campus to receive touchless donations. Participants were asked to pop their trunk or open their windows while the volunteer team loaded multiple half-gallon milk bottles and hand sanitizer into their cars.
“This is awesome,” said Andrea Lista, executive director of CCE Monroe. “We haven’t been able to really interact, so to be able to do this for the community and work in collaboration with the Dairy Farmers of America, great farmers like the Baloneks and the University of Rochester, it’s just an amazing feeling. To see those cars, we are so glad that we can be a help to people and this is people helping people. That’s what it’s all about.”
Milk not distributed at the drive went to small food pantries across Monroe County.