Food Banks Aim to Close Hunger Gap With Grant Funds

Food insecurity has long been a problem in the United States. Minimum wage does not provide a person with enough money for the essentials of living. If a parent earns minimum wage, they do not have enough money to feed their family. Even a person working two minimum wage jobs, they may not be able to afford enough to eat. The same is true for a family in which there are two earners who have low-wage jobs.

September Is Hunger Action Month

September is Hunger Action Month. Hungry families, especially those that include young children and the elderly, often lack enough calcium in their diets. Without the help of a food bank, people may suffer from malnutrition even if they get enough calories. Cathy Pope, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mid-South Food Bank, said that being able to purchase milk at a discount and store it for their customers will help the food bank provide a consistent supply of calcium-rich food for those who need it the most.

Most Requested Items from Food Banks

Milk is a nutrient-rich beverage that is in high demand at food banks, but they do not always have it available. There are several reasons for this. Milk takes up a lot of space, and not all food banks have a large walk-in cooler or refrigerated cases to store it. Milk requires transportation in a refrigerated truck, and not all food banks have those. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there were transportation and logistical problems that impacted milk production, processing and delivery. In addition to milk being in high demand at food banks, people also ask for similar protein-rich foods, including cheese and meats. The issues with getting dairy and meat products to people in need of nutrition are similar. Another issue is the cost of the milk. Dairy and meat products also have an expiration date, and food banks do not want to waste money on products that are close to or at the expiration date. They cannot pass out food that is expired.

New Grant from the Dairy Alliance

On September 25, the Dairy Alliance of Tennessee and Georgia announced a $60,000 grant to give people access to real milk. The grant is for the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank and the Mid-South Food Bank. The Middle Georgia Food Bank is located in Macon, GA, and the Mid-South Food Bank is located in Memphis, TN. Individuals, single parents, families and the elderly use these food banks heavily.

How the Food Banks Used the Grant Funds

The Middle Georgia Community Food Bank and Mid-South Food Bank used the Dairy Alliance grant money to purchase new large refrigerators. Doing so increased their capacity to store and provide milk. These food banks serve people who live in middle Georgia, Northern Mississippi, and Western Tennessee.

Who the Dairy Alliance Grant Will Help

According to a report called the Meal Gap, which was written by Feeding America, more than 1.3 million Georgia residents and 950,000 Tennessee residents have food insecurity. These numbers include one out of six children. Food insecurity means that the family may not have enough food at any point in the year. Parents may skip a meal so that children can eat, or each member may have less than what they need for proper nutrition. Food banks and community partners try to get healthy food to those who need it.

How the Dairy Alliance Grant Helps Farmers

Farmers have also been suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic. The transportation and logistical problems made it difficult for them to process and ship their products. Geri Berdak, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dairy Alliance, said that the grant will help nourish local families for a long time. The dairy farmers will also benefit from the grant's funds. The grant will open up a new market for them. Food banks may be able to order directly from the farmers, cutting out the middle man and getting a lower per-unit price on milk, other dairy products and meat.

Creating Grant Opportunities for Food Banks

The Northern Illinois Food Bank and Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. created the Milk2MyPlate program in 2012. It has set up grants like this and encouraged partnerships such as the Dairy Alliance's grants to Georgia's and Tennessee's food banks. The goals of these grants are to get nutritious food to where it's needed and serve communities.

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