Give milk? Dairy farmers donate 1,500 gallons

By on April 25, 2012

By: LES MARTZALL Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

(Front row, left to right) Mark Eby, Aaron Fisher; (back, l-r) Joe Zook, David Lapp and Paul Beyer display some of the 1,500 gallons of donated milk. (Photo by Les Martzall)

Members of the National Dairy Producers Organization, Inc. have donated 1,500 gallons of milk to Blessings of Hope, a local charity with multiple locations in the Ephrata area.

The National Dairy Producers Organization has launched its 2012 National Agenda which includes having the Dairy Pricing Association donate milk to charity as part of a program to help maintain a level of milk production that meets the needs of the consumer while stabilizing the price paid for raw milk to member dairy producers.

"Our long range goal is to provide millions of tons of milk and milk products to the needy of our country for distribution by the very people who are daily involved in the work to feed hungry people," said local NDPO board member and dairy producer Mark Eby of Intercourse. "We encourage more dairy producers in PA and across the country to join us in this important effort to strengthen the dairy industry, by helping to meet the needs of organizations like Blessing of Hope as they work to meet the needs of hungry families, mothers and children."

Blessings of Hope is building a food distribution network that is able to receive large quantities of food and distribute to food ministries in manageable quantities. According to the Blessings of Hope Director, Aaron Fisher, the organization was founded about five years ago and currently maintains four warehouses in the Ephrata area that are used to store and distribute food. The ministry utilizes two employees and many volunteers to conduct its operations.

"The food is gathered here and then distributed to local ministries such as the Water Street Rescue Mission, the Lancaster County Council of Churches, Revelations of Freedom, the Bowery Mission in New York City and the Can Can Ministry in Baltimore," said Fisher.

"We also distribute between 80 and 150 boxes of food to local families in need weekly," said Joe Zook, Blessings of Hope product and relationship coordinator.

This week’s donation of the 1,500 gallons of milk (12,750 pounds) will be distributed to 15 different sites within the Blessings of Hope network.

Each year, Americans discard more than 96 billion pounds of good food, and disposing of this waste costs our country more than 1 billion dollars a year. This is almost 27 percent of all the food produced in the USA annually, according to the USDA. Blessings of Hope is dedicated to keeping as much of this food out of the landfills as possible by receiving, storing, cooling and freezing large quantities of food as possible. They then break it down into manageable size quantities for other food banks, halfway houses, community outreaches, homeless shelters/orphanages and needy families.

"Our organization is over 65 years old and partners with over 100 churches here in Lancaster County," said Lancaster County Council of Churches Executive Director Reverend Scott Fischer. "We provide support to ministries around the county that are helping people in their neighborhoods. "We want the people in need in the Ephrata area to be served by the churches and others in their community."

This milk donation appears to be a win-win for those in need and for the dairy producers who donate it — helping stabilize milk prices and protect or improve their income. This effort by members of the Dairy Pricing Association of the national Dairy Producers Organization is growing across the entire nation. Local dairy producers were invited to attend meetings in Lancaster County this week to attract more members into the organization.

"Many local dairy producers are very much in favor of this type of a program," Eby said. "Amish and many other dairy producers support the program since it involves the free distribution of milk to those in need in our local communities." More MILK, page A15

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