Got Milk? Well, because of COVID-19, the unfortunate answer for a large portion of Georgia families is “no.” A little-known fact of this pandemic is that there’s a widespread milk deficit in American households; as pay cuts and unemployment rates increase, families are struggling to buy nutritious food for themselves and their loved ones.
To help address this ongoing need, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a Farmers to Families Food Box program, in which fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat products will be sent to food banks, community-oriented and/or faith-based organizations, and other non-profits helping those in need. Through this initiative, a representative from Borden Dairy contacted The Salvation Army of Georgia to discuss a potential partnership to provide milk to struggling Georgians.
The partnership was an instant success, and it soon became a national Salvation Army initiative.
“Learning about the widespread, urgent demand for milk was mind-boggling and eye-opening,” said Assistant Emergency Disaster Services Coordinator Tyra Gore of The Salvation Army Southern Territorial Headquarters. “COVID-19 has posed a multitude of challenges for households already, so we are blessed to have the opportunity to help address this specific issue for individuals all over the nation.”
In the Georgia Division alone, there are 27 locations that are receiving and distributing up to 1,000 gallons of milk on a weekly basis. From returning clients to fresh faces, people from all walks of life show up in hopes of finding nourishment during these unprecedented times. Anyone is welcome to pick up milk; there are no requirements or proof of necessity needed – no questions asked.
“So many people are desperate in our communities,” said Captain Erik Henry of The Salvation Army of Athens, GA. “We have the incredible opportunity to provide milk and other basic necessities to our neighbors and remind them that The Salvation Army is still connected with them during these uncertain times. Any money that we can help families save will make a tremendous difference throughout the month for them.”
Specific delivery dates and times are set several days ahead of time so The Salvation Army can arrange an immediate pickup by the public just as the milk is delivered. All processes are no-touch, and most locations have implemented drive-by pickups with workers wearing masks and observing social distancing. Despite working outside in hot temperatures, every Salvation Army and Borden Dairy employee/volunteer is clad in personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“I love seeing community partners working together for a common goal – assisting those in need, particularly children,” said Service Center Director Lisa Martin of The Salvation Army of LaGrange, GA. “And partnering with Borden Dairy for this initiative has been truly wonderful. Every Borden Dairy employee we’ve encountered has been kind-hearted, helpful, and has shared our enthusiasm for Doing The Most Good.”