ROSEMONT, Ill. – America’s dairy producers and dairy importers recently announced a $100,000 grant program to address domestic hunger ― a major issue that today affects one in six Americans, including more than one in five children.
National Dairy Council (NDC) ― the nutrition education, marketing and communications arm of the checkoff ― along with Feeding America and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will award nutrition initiative grants of $10,000 each to 10 food banks across the country within the Feeding America network. These grants will support nutrition education efforts and increased access to dairy products and other in-demand, nutrient-rich foods.
NDC aligned with the two organizations to form its “Future of Food” partnership in June 2012 to help improve the nation’s food and nutrition security by increasing the availability of nutritious, safe and affordable foods.
“Dairy producers have a nearly 100-year commitment to the health and wellness of Americans,” said Jerry Messer, a North Dakota dairy producer and chairman of the checkoff-funded NDC. “This partnership helps ensure that every American has access to nutrient-rich foods, including low-fat and fat-free milk and other dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.”
“Milk is among the top five items clients request from their food bank,” said Maura Daly, chief communications and development officer with Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. “Yet, of all the foods we distribute, only 5 percent are dairy products. Knowing that we have support from NDC and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, we can leverage the partnership’s collective resources to help ensure that our food banks have a constant supply of milk and dairy products.”
To help meet this demand, national, state and regional dairy councils are launching grassroots efforts across the country. Beginning in June, “Give Good with Dairy” will kick off in local communities to drive donations of milk, cheese and yogurt directly to food banks through retail partnerships, voucher programs and other local events.
“We formed this partnership because we knew we could make a real difference by working together and help provide our entire nation with access to nutritious foods,” said Ethan Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Our organization’s food and nutrition professionals are dedicated to making a difference in their local communities by providing nutrition education and solutions to improve access to nutrient-rich foods through local partnership efforts.”
In addition to the grant program, the Future of Food partner organizations and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association launched a “virtual food drive” (bit.ly/givegoodwithdairy) with Washington D.C.-based Capital Area Food Bank to encourage members of the local community to make monetary donations to purchase nutrient-rich milk, cheese, and yogurt, along with fresh produce and other needed foods.