Dairy and food industry groups joined forces with Detroit Red Wings player Justin Abdelkader to donate $26,000 to buy fresh milk for the Food Bank Council of Michigan.
The donation was made possible through Michigan-area members of Dairy Farmers of America and its DFA Cares Foundation, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), and SpartanNash, a Fortune 400 company headquartered in Michigan for more than 100 years.
The $26,000 donation will be used to buy SpartanNash’s Our Family brand milk from locally based Country Fresh of Grand Rapids. The milk will help feed local families through the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s network of seven food banks serving all 83 counties in the state.
“Milk is a highly requested item at our food banks, but it’s not often donated due to its perishability,” says Phillip Knight, executive director at Food Bank Council of Michigan. “We’re especially grateful for this milk donation right now during the summer months because so many of our Michigan-area children and families might be missing out on their daily access to milk with school not in session.”
Currently, 15% of all Michigan residents and 18% of all children are considered food insecure. Nationally, according to FeedingAmerica.org, more than 46 million people, including 13 million children, turn to food banks each year for extra support.
“Because real cow’s milk provides nine essential nutrients, including protein and calcium, it is important for growing children to have at least three servings every day,” says Sharon Toth, CEO at UDIM. “We are happy to be a partner in finding solutions to get fresh milk to food-insecure households across Michigan.”
The money was raised through Michigan-area DFA dairy farm family and employee monetary donations to the DFA Cares Foundation, which made a dollar-for-dollar match for every contribution, for a total donation of $11,042. UDIM, along with Justin Abdelkader, matched the DFA Cares donations made in the state of Michigan, up to $10,000. SpartanNash also contributed $5,000 to help support the Food Bank Council of Michigan.
“As dairy farmers, we work hard every day to provide nutritious and delicious dairy products to people in our community and beyond,” says Dan VanDyke, a farmer from Coopersville and a member of DFA’s Mideast Area Council. “It’s important to help others out, and I’m incredibly proud to help support this effort, which will benefit individuals and families who are facing tough times throughout Michigan.”
Meredith Gremel, SpartanNash vice president of corporate affairs and communications, adds, “Each year, SpartanNash donates more than 5.5 million pounds of food through our corporate retail locations, distribution centers and our MDV military division, because we know how important it is to our local communities that everyone has a healthy, nutritious meal on the table each day.”
The $26,042 check was presented by Detroit Red Wings player Justin Abdelkader to representatives of the Food Bank Council of Michigan at SpartanNash’s annual Fresh and Grocery-Frozen-Dairy Expo, held at the DeVos Place Convention Center on Aug. 1-2. Representatives from DFA, UDIM and SpartanNash were also on hand for the check presentation.
“As an athlete, I know how important nutrition is to my daily performance, so it’s difficult to imagine how a kid can grow and learn without knowing if they will have nutritious food to help them be their best,” Abdelkader says. “That is why I wanted to partner with UDIM on this important initiative.”
The SpartanNash Fresh and Grocery-Frozen-Dairy Expo brings together SpartanNash corporate-owned stores, independent retail customers and vendors to introduce new products, trends and merchandising techniques available through SpartanNash.
At the end of the show, all leftover display products are donated to local food banks and pantries, in addition to the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s milk donation.