Some of Maine’s most passionate industry advocates are coming together to address hunger relief and support local dairy farmers. As part of this powerhouse partnership, Pineland Farms Dairy Company, Good Shepard Food Bank, Libra Foundation, and Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) will distribute thousands of pounds of cheese to food insecure Mainers through Maine’s emergency food distribution network.
“At an unprecedented time in our history, we are proud to work collaboratively to put local and highly nutritious cheese products into the hands of our neighbors in need,” said Mark Whitney, President and an Owner of Pineland Farms Dairy, who kicked off the partnership’s donation with a commitment of more than 26,000 pounds of its own cheese—made from local DFA member’s milk that was donated to the cheesemaker.
This donation from DFA will help Pineland replenish its inventories and restore operations at its recently renovated 75,000-square-foot Bangor facility.
“This program allows us to immediately begin re-engaging our entire plant workforce to make cheese with Maine milk for many Maine people, which is a welcome step forward,” Whitney continued. “This is a win for everyone.”
Within the partnership, each organization plays their own role, with Good Shepherd Food Bank spearheading the weekly distribution of the cheese to its network of over 500 partner agencies, including food pantries, meal sites, shelters, and schools.
“Need is increasing across Maine as more community members face financial uncertainty due to job loss or the inability to work due to school closures,” said President of Good Shepherd Food Bank Kristen Miale. “While it will take time to see new patterns of food insecurity emerge, we know the need is rising and the Food Bank is grateful that this partnership will reduce food waste and provide our neighbors with access to Maine-produced products.”
DFA, in addition to its milk donation to Pineland, is also committed to ensuring milk continues to be picked up, plants continue to operate, and the cooperative as a whole continues to provide consumers and communities with wholesome dairy products during this difficult time, according to a press release.
Travis Fogler, an Owner at Stonyvale Farm in Exeter, Maine, and a member of DFA’s Northeast Area Council, added, “Dairy Farmers of America is critical to the ongoing viability of many Maine farms, and therefore creating these markets for our milk in extreme circumstances is vitally important and we are proud to be able to put the milk to good use and support our communities in need.”
All in all, by continuing to have a market for their milk, Maine farmers will receive needed milk checks and contributions—which could total over 200,000 pounds of Maine Cheddars and Jacks over the course of several months—will reach those who need it most.
As more of our industry’s leaders band together to be the change for our world, Deli Market News will continue to report on the latest.